Written by Carson James
Tied to the Stone belongs to the Neil Young school of Americana, built on a foundation of country and folk but given a classic-rock kick. Based in California, Tied to the Stone more closely resembles the roots-oriented acts of the late ’60s and early ’70s (I could imagine them opening up for the Band or Poco) than much of what passes for Americana today. Lead singer Dan Worley discusses the meanings and origins of the group.
Carson James: The name of the band: Tied to the Stone. It can have two meanings, one positive, one negative. The positive being that the stone is a solid foundation, such as spiritual faith that you’re devoted to; the negative being that it’s something that is holding you in place, preventing you from moving forward. Which side of the coin is it on?
Dan Worley: I named the band after the song. I wrote “Tied To The Stone” on one of the worst days of my life. I wanted to give up on everything. I didn’t know what else to do so I sat down at the piano to try and sort it all out; that’s when the song came out. I could feel God giving me that song as a blessing to help remind me what was important and to hang onto Jesus and not let go. He’s the Stone I’m tied to. I decided to name the band Tied To The Stone to keep reminding me. I need a lot of reminders or I take over and screw everything up.
James: Your songs strike me as being quite personal. Were any of them uncomfortable to write?
Worley: Extremely so. For the most part, I enjoy writing songs, but for me it’s always a journey into uncomfortable territory because I end up having to wrestle with feelings and issues and aspects about myself and the world that I’d rather ignore. I’d love to just write about how hot and sexy and wonderful I am (like so many songs I’m hearing on the airwaves), but for some reason that never seems to come out. I wonder why? Even the happier more positive-sounding songs can be uncomfortable to write because it takes me a lot of internal processing to get to that point. I cop out once in a while, for sure. Out of fear, I may not go the entire distance to explore what it is the song is trying to reveal to me, or I just don’t have the talent or patience to get there artistically, so I end up taking short cuts and missing some of the scenery. Many of the songs for the album were specifically uncomfortable to write because they deal with pain I’ve carried with me since my youth, self-inflicted and otherwise.
James: Do you consciously write songs with the goal of longevity or are you not even conscious of that during the process of penning them?
Worley: Longevity, no. Integrity (hopefully), yes. When writing, I never think about if a song’s sounding like a hit or if it’s current or if it will have staying power, or anything like that. I want to write what’s truthful and meaningful to me at the time I write it, and it has to have the right feel and sound and fit. Songs are not commodities to me; they are a form of therapy and a way of communicating with myself and others.
I do want people to listen, and I do want them to get something out of them and like them, and I try to do the best I can so that will happen, but I can’t write specifically for a market or for posterity’s sake.
James: Is Tied to the Stone a real group or is it just you and session musicians? How did everyone get together?
Worley: We’re all friends who have played music together in one way or another throughout the years.
James: When did you start your musical career? Let us hear your story.
Worley: I’ve been writing songs for 40 years, since I was 12. In and out of bands and work for a lot of that time. Gave it up and tried “regular” jobs so I could raise a family. Bored me to tears (the jobs, not my
family). I always kept writing. Went to work for my producer Carolyn Wing Greenlee at her studio. She took a liking to my songs and encouraged me to do something with them, and she supported that effort.