Marty Jones is a self-proclaimed “bard of beer songs,” but in his most recent release, he drinks lemonade instead.
“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade, squeeze up a glass, and raise a toast!” he belts out. Jones’s new song, “When Life Hands You Crap (Make Compost)," is the first one he’s recorded since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Denver. The tune’s lyrics are determinedly optimistic, but the message is complicated by the stripped-down production quality and the bluesy rasp of Jones’s voice. This actually makes the song more compelling than it would otherwise be. Jones — intentionally or not — seems to be demonstrating within the composition itself the difficulty of staying positive during the global shit show we’ve been in for the past year.
“Initially the song was supposed to be a rousing, upbeat anthem with a band,” says Jones. “But being in a room recording with people doesn’t seem very wise these days, and it just doesn’t seem like a time for unbridled optimism, either, does it?”
Jones recorded the track on his phone at the living room table. He’d been toying with the song since before the pandemic, but couldn’t put it all together until recently.
“I’m a fan of songs that revolve around beer, but with the arrival of the pandemic, all of that just kind of seemed silly and inappropriate.”
Jones’s new song still has a sense of humor, though it undoubtedly takes on the dark tenor of current events with lines like Yesterday they all wanna be like you/Today you’re in the ICU and Who knew the good times would end?/We’d be burying our friends.
For Jones, the experience of writing and releasing the song from his living room was cathartic.
“It was a great relief,” he says, noting that he struggled to pick up his guitar at all for the first six months of the pandemic. “I hope the song brings other people a little bit of a perspective shift, because we need all the help we can get these days, you know?”
Jones is planning on releasing a compilation of his best beer-drinking songs in the next couple of weeks to celebrate making music in Denver for the past 25 years. He also hopes to record more topical songs like “When Life Hands You Crap (Make Compost).” Jones makes sure to note that he’s lucky compared to other local musicians, in that he doesn’t rely on making music for his livelihood. Regardless, he’s deeply invested in the survival of the local music scene.
“I hope all my music-making brothers and sisters — and the people who book it and support it — can hang on long enough to get back in the groove,” he says. “One of the greatest things about living in Denver has been the live music, and it feels like half of a town without it.”
Still, Jones remains optimistic...and “makes compost."
“Positive thinking is just crucial for survival and happiness, right?" he says. "Having a positive outlook and a sense of humor are two of the most important personality traits a person can have. They just help you get through the dark times, shake off depression, and find a way to keep moving forward. But at the same time, you can't hide from the things that are going on around you. You’ve got to keep it all in perspective and keep chooglin'.”
Get a dose of lemonade at the Marty Jones Bandcamp page.
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