David Mead: Wherever You Are

Gary Glauber

Short but delightfully sweet, David Mead serves up six tracks from a 'lost' album / musical love letter to NYC.

David Mead

Wherever You Are

Label: Eleven Thirty
US Release Date: 2005-06-28
UK Release Date: 2005-08-15
iTunes affiliate
Amazon affiliate

In late 2002, David Mead and bandmates Whynot Jansveld and Ethan Eubanks headed up to Woodstock NY to record with producer Stephen Hague (New Order, Blur, Pet Shop Boys) what was supposed to Mead's third release on RCA Records. The musicians later relocated to Bath, England, where Tchad Blake (Neil Finn, Los Lobos, Sheryl Crow) mixed most of the tracks. As final mixes were being printed, everyone was ecstatic about the new album and its songs, most of which captured the end of David Mead's love affair with New York City (he had moved back to Nashville).

But the music industry is fraught with bizarre twists. Two weeks later, RCA announced a merger with another label that included massive downsizing. David Mead was one of the artists dropped from the label, and Wherever You Are remained unreleased, collecting dust, while a morass of legal settlements ensued.

In reaction, Mead spent a few months writing a bunch of quiet, introspective songs. He soon signed on with another label and released many of those new songs in May 2004 as Indiana. Wherever You Are faded into the background, a what-could-have been transformed into a somewhat distant lost opportunity.

Now, in the summer of 2005, David Mead has unearthed six of the songs from that long unreleased album. He likens it to the experience of discovering rolls of undeveloped film and having them developed: the surreal sensation of seeing details of another time in one's life from a later perspective. He still loves these songs, and now listeners can too.

The opening title track reflects a somewhat stoic attitude of struggling against fate and accidents, set within a beautiful melody and delicate arrangement. Mead's gorgeous voice is the assured and emotive focal point to his music, and always a pleasure to behold. Here is no exception, in a rhetorical-questioning middle bridge:

"Did you wait 'til the sun was out of season, /
Better fade into shadows or you might get burned, /
When you're high, hear my words and you'll believe them /
Consolation for a lesson you might have learned."

"Hold On" is a sweetly optimistic song of encouragement and determination. Mead urges a lovelorn friend to wait out the bad times, promising consolation and hope:

"If I could console you with a little hero's song where everyone adores you, would you try to sing along? /
Hold on to yourself, until you find somebody else, /
Hang on, love is real, and though it's left you all alone, I know its light will lead you home".

"Only A Dream" is a little more jazzy and moody, employing some minor chords to echo the lyrical explorations of the difficult aspects of living in NYC:

"Sundays are the best, blanketed in silence, perfect in the place where you are, /
Comfortable I guess, but no man is an island, breaking waves and shooting at stars, /
Paperback is done, so move out to the corner, dive into the sea of the crowd, /
They say it's all been done, and life is made to order, counting cracks and thinking out loud, /
But if you awake with a shake and a shiver, from down in the depths you've seen, /
Just leave it behind, close your eyes and remember it's only a dream."

Mead serves up hope even in hard times, and does so with a light lyrical touch.

Perhaps the most beautiful song here is "Astronaut", Mead's reluctant farewell and love song to New York. Mead claims to love New York in the way a man might love a particularly volatile woman with whom he realizes he can't stay. This song's lyrics marvelously capture the bittersweet departure from a place that wasn't as permanent as he'd once hoped it would be:

"So baby open your canyons up and sweep me right along, /
Won't you give me your cold embrace, I'll give you one more song, /
Then you tell me a lie and say you'll miss me when I'm gone /
'Cause I'm leaving the ground tonight, I'm over your ceiling, /
'Cause down in your sinking lives, life is but a dream and though you may pretend, this is how it ends, gone again."

"Make It Right" follows that departure, a musical entreaty for redemption: "This is just the final curtain call, after such a long elaborate fall, / I was only fighting for my life, but now I want a chance to make it right." Mead is picking up the pieces, reflecting on what's been left behind -- with that winning music and voice, how could he be refused a second chance?

This mini-CD ends with Mead's sweet melodic love letter to the Big Apple, "How Much", wherein he recounts some of the many things he'll miss about the city:

"Suicidal morning of pink and purple glow, /
The city's up and yawning, a blanket made of snow, /
Sentimental movie from many years ago, /
You don't know how much I'm gonna miss you."

The song ends abruptly, almost as if only half done.

While only 22+ minutes of music, Wherever You Are offers up six quiet, mature songs that express genuine warmth and emotional intelligence amidst what was a major life change. Mead's voice remains a rare gift, and these quality bittersweet love songs to a city he reluctantly leaves are a welcome surprise, musical snapshots from years ago that I, for one, am glad to encounter even so long after the fact.


To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.