Far Cries and Close Calls by John Calvin Abney
Tulsa-based songwriter John Calvin Abney shares the stories behind his latest album, Far Cries and Close Calls, for this Creator Conversation Q&A session. He also talks about what got him into music, beauty seldom seen in Oklahoma, the strangest town he’s visited, how to stay postivite, and more.
How do you describe yourself and your music?
I describe myself as a life-long traveler who happens to enjoy composing music, writing, and singing. Performing in front of people is something that came naturally for me, though feeling comfortably doing so took awhile. My music has been described as many things over the course of my time spent in various circuits, but I haven’t figured out a good term besides rock and roll. Doesn’t matter how it sounds, as long as it makes you feel free.
What pushed you to share your music with the world?
At first, my interest in sharing my music with the world was a ravenous one, as I took every performance opportunity that came my way. As I honed my song and sharpened my craft by devouring literature and practicing and touring with myriad acts, I realized that my music became a vehicle in which I could relate to other human beings, travel the land and sky, and finally, speak my mind with a voice that belonged to me. I enjoy making records and I enjoy how my records make people feel, good or bad.
Use only seven words to describe your album, Far Cries and Close Calls.
Cosmic. Intuitive. Dangerous. Reckless. Communicative. Tired. Sympathetic.
What’s the story behind the album title?
Had a dream, heard the words in sequence, felt relation to said words, and thought about what success and failure meant to me in a January snowstorm at altitude on the western slope of Colorado.
What are some personal “close calls” you’ve had?
Every time I get in my car to drive across the country, I run into a close call. But like Winston Churchill said, “there is nothing more exhilarating than being shot at with no result.” And hell, when you get a proverbial bullet, then you learn from it, and you keep moving. If you stop, it’s over.
What was the greatest challenge you had when making the album?
I had lost my voice the day I went into the studio, so I had to quiet myself in order to heal during the process, which was hard because I was rather jubilant to see the birth of these songs on tape.
What’s some beauty seldom seen in Oklahoma?
The green forests and Illinois River that run along Eastern Oklahoma, Black Mesa, Roman Nose, Turner Falls, the Oxley Nature Center near my home Tulsa, and I could go on, and on. Lots of folks who don’t live here don’t realize that Oklahoma truly is one of the jewels of our country, they just haven’t spent the time or have the patience to wait and see.
What’s the strangest town you’ve ever visited in the world?
Madrid, NM is one that comes to mind. Truly a place of wonder, separated seemingly from everywhere else. I’ll be playing there next month for the first time in years. Excited to return.
What’s something positive you try to keep in mind when negativity surrounds you?
The virtue of patience, the taste of a cold beer, and knowledge that nothing is truly static. All our times will come accordingly.
What are some of your favorite places to perform or listen to live music in Oklahoma?
The Blue Door in Oklahoma City, The Deli and OPOLIS in Norman, and The Colony in Tulsa.