Episode 102: Rod Melancon

Air date: 2.19.2014

Rod Melancon Photo by Micah Albert

Generations of American kids have whiled away countless hours of high school study hall periods longing to get out of their hometowns.  Some of them never do, instead getting their names inscribed on local bar stools and sending their children to the same teachers in the same halls where they once dreamed of a bigger life.  But some of them do get out - making their way to some city on a coast where they feel they have a better shot at getting traction on their dreams.  And sometimes, once they get the kind of perspective that can only be gleaned by a change of scenery, they look back on their hometown with a new set of eyes.  Rod Melancon grew up in the rural bayous of southern Louisiana in an unincorporated town too small for a school.  He did the things that boys do; playing sports, chasing girls and acting in school plays, and it was the latter of these pursuits that sent him West.  He had a little success with his acting, but it was a cathartic moment back in Louisiana that took place when he watched the emotional reaction his grandfather had to a gift of a Hank Williams album that drew Melancon to songwriting.  He took that transformative experience back to Los Angeles and started populating his songs with characters and artifacts from his hometown. His new album, Parish Lines, plays like Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska on steroids.  The cars and the girls are here, as are the tragedy, comedy and braggadocio of a young man pushing hard on the seams of his small town.  But there is also something else - a reverence for his formative surroundings that he might have been blind to had he never left.  Striking that balance is hard, and Melancon manages to pull it off - weaving enough detail and intimacy into his songs to give them gravitas but also providing enough universality so that listeners everywhere are taken back to their own never ending hours cooped up in study halls.  Melancon is an astute observer for being in his mid-twenties, and if he can keep growing as a writer there are a lot more really great songs ahead

Download "South Louisian'"
"Grace, I Swear"
"Cushing Avenue"
"Curve Lounge"
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