Walking it Out - Terry Klein
There was a time when the only way I could get a song started was by walking. This wasn't a problem in Boston, where I practiced law for fifteen years before we moved to Austin so I could sing and write songs full time. Every morning I'd walk from our house to the Arnold Arboretum and wander among the white pine and hemlock, ramble on hill sides and frozen trails. Some days something would come to me. A lot of days. Some days it wouldn't. It was about an hour and forty minutes worth of walking and that was enough for me to get a sense for whether the muse wanted my attention on that particular day.
When we first moved to Austin, I tried walking around our neighborhood. We got here in the summer. It was hot, of course, even in the beautiful mornings. Little shards of lines and melodies would come find me, but nothing special. Nothing I'd want to keep. This wasn't a crisis. I had enough material for a record and I went into the studio and made one with Walt Wilkins, something I never ever imagined would happened and still can't believe did happen. Twice now!
But once that first record was tracked, I had to get back to writing. I looked at a map. I noticed that if I parked my car a little ways north of 38th Street, I could walk along Shoal Creek all the way to Town Lake. I tried it.
I fell in love with that walk. Especially when the creek was up and to cross it I had to get my feet wet. At first the stretch between 31st and 29th was under repair so I'd walk along North Lamar, past the gun store. Then they opened that part of the trail again and it became one of my favorite spots in all of Austin, this magical place tucked away in the middle of a vibrant, growing city. And I loved walking through the Seiders Oaks and imagining poor, dumb Gideon White tempting fate when everyone, every-darn-body said "Don't go that far out of town and sure as heck don't locate near Shoal Creek".
It was winter and it was brisk. Then there was sweet, short spring. And then the relentless summer. I wrote "Andalusia", "Every Other Sunday", "Oklahoma", and "Sagamore Bridge" on those walks. The muse knew where to find me I guess.
Somewhere in there it happened that I didn't need to start songs while I was walking anymore. My writing room, which scared me at first, became less scary. A little while after that, large portion of the Shoal Creek trail was destroyed during a torrential rain. I still go back from time to time with the dog. She pulls on the leash and takes personal offense at the squirrels' audacity, their mere existence. Some days the creek is up. Most days, alas, it's not.
Shoal Creek is special to me. And I'll probably never play a show closer to Shoal Creek than this one.
I can't wait.