Stories of the Years

Liberty Records
1996

This record was recorded in 1996 while John was on the Liberty/Capitol Records label. It features country rock and stone country music from his only major label recording.

Musicians on this recording and a few of their career credits:

John Bunzow: Vocals and Guitars.
Pete Anderson: Producer, Arranger, Guitar (Dwight Yoakam, Steve Forbert).
Dusty Wakeman: Bass (Lucinda Williams, Los Lobos).
Jeff Donavan: Drums (Palladins, Dwight Yoakam).
Dean Parks: Guitars (Bob Dylan, Steely Dan, Willie Nelson, Brian Wilson, Paul Simon).
Al Perkins: Steel Guitar and Dobro (Eagles, Gram Parsons, Flying Burrito Brothers, Emmylou Harris).
Lenny Castro: Percussion (Stevie Wonder, Mick Jagger, Randy Newman, George Benson, BB King, Bonnie Raitt, John Mayer).
Anthony Crawford: Background Vocals (Neil Young, Steve Winwood, Dwight Yoakam).
Skip Edwards: Keyboards (Dwight Yoakam, Johnny Rivers).
Gary Ogan: Harmony Vocals (Leon Russell).

 

Recorded at Mad Dog Studios, Venice, CA
Recorded by Michael Dumas, Dusty Wakeman and Ray Blair
Mixed by David Leonard

Desolation Road
(John Bunzow)

Been steerin’ these eighteen wheels
Goin’ on ten years
Tucson to Orlando
Shiften a lot of gears
Too tired when I got home
To see the hurt in her eyes
Too many nights alone
I just didn’t realize
That it led to
Desolation road
Desolation road

I got her goodbye note
At a truck stop in Orlando
It really shook me up
Like the time I hit the guardrail near Fargo
Can’t handle this emptiness
Wish I could turn back home
It’s driven me to the edge
Gonna jack knife me for sure
Down on desolation road
Desolation road

Where there’s burning bridges
Fog black as diesel smoke
Ice on the turnpike
And my heart’s heavy load
Is losin’ control
Down on desolation road
Desolation road
Desolation road

Poison Mem’ries
(John Bunzow)

My father told me
When I was a kid
Don’t eat wild berries
Or you’re gonna get sick
Later he told me
‘Bout liquor and wine
Don’t savor the high life
It’ll kill you in time
But he never told me
About love and lies
How the sweet taste of her love
Is deadly after awhile

Chorus:
Poison mem’ries
She gave to me
The venom of her lies
Makes me heartsick and weak
Burnin’ with fever
From anger and need
Poison mem’ries
Slowly killin’ me

She said she’d stay always
Then to another she strayed
My lover’s deception
Left this bitter taste
Now a cruel yearning
Flows through my veins
There’s no remedy
For these thoughts I can’t shake

Chorus

Stories Of The Years
(John Bunzow)

A symphony of words and laughter
Fills the corner of the park
Where old men gather each morning
For dominos and cards
This ritual brings refuge
From the aches and pains and fears
They rejoice of times and places
Tradin’ stories of the years

When Billy was a sailor
Ran spices from Singapore
His crippled old friend Matthew
Was a hero in the war
And Chester smiles remembrin’
How his Texas oil well sprayed
Then women gamblin’ and drinkin’
Blew his fortune away

Chorus:
They were young men dreamin’
And schemin’ for more
From a life that they love
And always lived hard
They talk of trains and trollies
Babe Ruth and nickel beers
Old men sharin’ stories of the years

Big Jim was a boxer
He went a good round or two
With heavyweight Jack Sharkey
The champ in 1932
And Johnny was a singer
Headlined from New York to Las Vegas
His wife always went with him
Kept his thoughts and shirts cleaned and pressed

Chorus

“Ex-house painter John Bunzow throws formula country songwriting out the window on his arresting debut Stories of the Years. Blending an amiable tenor with economy of language and the minimalistic production of Dwight Yoakam collaborator Pete Anderson, Bunzow makes no secret of his influences — Tom T. Hall on the title song, Merle Haggard on ”Poison Mem’ries” — but uses them merely as jumping-off points for an inventive romp. Grade: A”

Alanna Nash, Entertainment Weekly

“…folks who actually heard the album were surprised to discover a refreshingly direct, no-nonsense record that had more in common with Steve Earle’s best work than any dance-club pretty boys. The CD’s opener, “Desolation Road,” starts things off right with a kickin’ rhythm section and propulsive slide guitar that’s perfectly matched to Bunzow’s mournful delivery. His vocals get even better on ballads, and producer Pete Anderson smartly chooses sparse arrangements that are still interesting enough to complement, rather than just support, the songs. … Bunzow’s songs are of a consistently high quality… be it a surprising melodic twist or a memorable turn of phrase.”

Pemberton Roach, All Music Guide

“A songwriter’s writer, John Bunzow could be the catalyst in Nashville’s eventual shift out of hyper-hat mode. Stories Of The Years is one hell of an impressive debut from this Portland, Oregon native who spent some years doin’ the Nashville thing before laying down an impressive demo that caught the ears and interest of producer Pete Anderson. A shot of James Taylor mixed with a twinge of Dwight Yoakam’s nasal twang, Bunzow’s voice is a most pleasant blend, bringing conviction to the country rockers “Muddy Water Under The Bridge,” “Ain’t No Little Thing” and my pick to click, “Easy As One, Two, Three.” Bunzow writes real honest country songs that don’t get lost in any pop sensibilities. One run through “Poison Mem’ries” hammers that point home. With a natural ability to convey the stories and characters of his songs with such ease, be it the trucker in the opening “Desolation Road” or the closing title track, John Bunzow is bound for a very bright future. ”

Gavin Report

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