Fred: In the early 90s, I was involved with a woman from the New Orleans area who was living in Texas. When Cowboy Mouth first started, we did a lot of shows in Austin. That was one of the markets that really blossomed for us.
It came to a point where this lady needed to choose between me and somebody else. She chose somebody else.
It was one of the few times that I really put myself out there emotionally. I was really wounded.
But more than the story that triggered the song, “Take Me Back To New Orleans” is about the need to go home, to be in the arms of a loving person, loving parents, loving family members. Every once in a while, we want to go home, wherever home is.
That's what “Take Me Back To New Orleans” is about. That's what “The Avenue” is about. It is going home to someplace safe and warm. It is a place where you can gather your strength, whether that is emotional, physical, or spiritual.
That song was a gift, because I was really feeling vulnerable. I was lost and hurt. It would have been easy to write a song about “to hell with her.” I have written my fair share of those. But to have that ability to be vulnerable and to express that vulnerability…
I am really proud of the version on “Are You With Me?” But for the version that's on “Best Of,” I cut all those vocals when I was going through a divorce. It was really wild, because all of those emotions of “Take Me Back To New Orleans,” “Whatcha Gonna Do?”, and “Jenny Says” were completely fresh to me again.
And it is not just what “Take Me Back To New Orleans" says. It is the emotion that I was able to convey recording the song. If you listen to the melody, there is a longing to it. There is a real, melodic longing there. We were lucky to capture that.
Those are the moments as a songwriter when there is something else at play. It is not just me and my ability to string a melody together. “God Makes The Rain,” “The Avenue,” “Jenny Says,” “I Believe,” “Oh, Toulouse”… those moments present themselves. You allowed something else to come in and take advantage of your talents.