Susan Tedeschi's Motherly Blues
On her latest album, Back to the River, singer and guitarist Susan Tedeschi uses her hard blues style to tell stories of family life. Her own day-to-day existence with husband Derek Trucks (a guitarist with the Allman Brothers Band) and their two children may not be average, but Tedeschi's songs have universal appeal.
After studying voice at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Tedeschi says she discovered the blues.
"I think it was so fresh and new that I couldn't help but want to play along," she says. "Different guitar players really inspired me to want to learn how to sing on the guitar. I didn't care that my fingers were getting tore up or any of that."
'Can't Sleep At Night'
Tedeschi's mix of blues style and domestic tales creates songs like "Can't Sleep at Night," with its tortured lyrics. The song was written late one night after the kids had gone to bed and her husband was on tour.
"I was at home," she says, "and I remember going down in the garage and just looking at all the messes of things that I should be cleaning, and I was like, 'I don't want to clean. I think I just want to sit and play.' "
The dark themes of Tedeschi's songs often come from other people's experiences rather than her own, she says.
"I think sometimes I tap into other people," Tedeschi says. "I sometimes write about other things that I see or just different situations. I think during that time I had a lot of friends that were getting divorces. Sometimes the people around you really affect what you write."
The Influence Of Motherhood
Tedeschi says her children have a significant impact on all aspects of her musical career, from songwriting to touring.
"It's difficult now that they're in school. I can't just pick them up and throw them on a tour bus and go on the road with them," she says. Instead, the family stays in contact through daily phone calls: "I'm on the phone with them in the mornings if they're getting ready for school, just trying to quickly say hi."
In a way, though, her children are with her at every performance: Both she and her husband keep photos of the children on their amps on stage.
"It helps us think about them," Tedeschi says. "It just helps us stay grounded."
Her kids have also influenced the kinds of stories she tells in her songs.
"I think, having kids, I really care more about the world. I'm not just caring about myself," she says. "In the past, I never really wanted to deal with stuff. I'm always trying to write about positive things now. I think it's less melancholy and more positive."
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