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Life on the quiet side

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CHOCTAW, Okla. – Joe Goodkin's EP Record of Life is a compilation of life stories set to beautiful, soft music and vocals. Record of Life is simple enough for people to easily relate, yet so full of experiences that strong emotions are evoked.

The EP begins with "Dog and Cat" and soft fingerpicking on a guitar. The song highlights the sacrifices made to make dreams a reality with heavy vocals and decorated with simple but poignant harmony.

"Grey" changes the pace with a catchy guitar melody. The song begins with the story of the relationship between a man and his dog. The character looks back on the day he adopted the dog from the pound and the instant connection between the two. A connection that lasted the test of time. The song takes a slight change to focus on the main character and his ill grandfather. The song symbolizes how hard it is to deal with change, loss and the circle of life while focusing on the positive which comes from the negative. "Grey" was the first song Goodkin wrote for Record of Life. Goodkin lost both the dog and his grandpa during this time, and the song's raw emotion is a direct reflection of these losses.

The EP takes a turn in a more positive direction with "My Friends." The song is about high school best friends seeing the Grateful Dead's last show together in 1995 and the progression of the friendships overtime. This song has slivers of moments that highlight Goodkin's youthfulness, but also brings forward how time can create distance between friends. It builds from the complications of youth with one voice to a choir of eight layers representing the ever growing struggles in life as the years pass.

While recording Record of Life, Goodkin was not alone. He believes he had help from the unknown.

"I used a 1963 Gibson ES-125t, which I believe is haunted," Goodkin said. "It seems to have a character of its own. And I wanted that to come out on the record, almost like a personality, since any noise not my voice was created by that guitar I felt it was like a band mate. There were also a couple situations where the guitar generated notes I wasn't playing, overtones and undertones, perfectly in tune and complementary."

In addition to his haunted guitar, ghosts visited Goodkin, inspiring him to write "Three Ghosts." Goodkin claims he indeed saw the ghosts, all of whom had committed suicide.

The first was a friend from high school who took her life at 16. She suffocated to death in a garage enriched with fumes alongside another young woman. The double suicide was a hard experience for Goodkin to grasp at the time, and it impacted him for the rest of his life. 

The song continues with the main character meeting the woman that would one day become his wife. The two met one year after her life was struck with the tragedy of her love jumping off of the Golden Gate bridge. She struggled with the suicide, and continued to hope for his return. 

The final ghost, who is Goodkin's uncle, claimed his own life around Christmas.  8 months later  Joe and his wife were in an airport where they ran into someone special, the uncle's wife. The three were emotional as they looked back on the uncle and left the chance meeting with full hearts.

The three losses, although separated by 20 years, resonated with Goodkin.

"Every word of it. It all happened," he said.

"As Old As I Am Now" highlights Goodkin's family memories over his lifetime. The song begins with scenes of Saturdays with his father. While looking back on old family photos, Goodkin realizes he is the same age as his parents once were. The song begins with a simple, repeating guitar riff, representing the simplicity in his childhood and builds to the end with a rhythm guitar.

The final song "Something to Love" expresses Goodkin's creative process, life on the road and the struggles of writing an album. The sweet finger picking of the song is a great representation of the blessings in his life and the harder, slightly distorted electric guitar melody adds much needed texture and represents the adversaries in achieving the life he has.

Overall Record of Life takes life experiences and places them in a format in which allows for Goodkin's audience to easily relate to the songs. The EP's simplicity makes it an easy listen and perfect for those who enjoy life on the quieter side. Record of Life will be released June 2015. 

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Mary Belle Zook

Mary Belle Zook is a goat and cattle farmer turned aspiring journalist who found her love for...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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