August 12th, 2009 | Interviews

paul rodriguez

Download: Amanda Jo Williams “The Bear Eats Me”


(from the self-released The Bear Eats Me out soon)

L.A. RECORD likes fresh and spicy meat. We couldn’t wait for Amanda Jo Williams to wipe the dust gathered on her Jumbo Western in the long cross-country trek. Her quirky country style lets her be as comfortable strumming songs about sex as she (and her twins) are rhyming about poop. Right now she’s handing out CDs burnt on her computer, leaving them on benches and releasing them in baskets into the L.A. river. If fate will have it, those 24 peanuts of wisdom will wind up on a barstool near you. This interview by Daiana Feuer.

How many songs have you written in one stretch?
A lot. I go through spurts. I’d say one spurt will make twenty to forty songs maybe. But usually I’ll have someone that inspires me. Most of the time, it’s about saving the world. But recently I had a muse, so it made a different type of songs.
Who was your muse?
It was a sexy man.
I like the song about shopping cart sex.
That’s about the sexy man.
Where are you from?
Hogansville, Georgia. It’s close to La Grange. La Grange is a little bigger—that’s why I sometimes tell people La Grange. Hogansville is really small. It’s like an hour and a half south of Atlanta. It’s in the country. Very in the country. Yeah. Like Family Dollar. Horses. Fences. Broken fences.
Did you have horses?
I did. My horse Bobo, he was born there on the property. I saw him being born­—his feet were sticking out. That’s how it happened. Anyways, he was like fifteen, and then two or three years ago he escaped and got hit on the road, like a deer. A woman in her Cadillac—she waited too late to sue my mama. I mean, I’m glad she waited too late to sue.
You can sue someone for hitting their horse?
Yeah, ‘cause it’s not a deer—it’s not wild animals.
Can you talk about the poop song?
My twins, Ginger and Hominy—hominy like grits or corn—we did that together. It’s just like improv. They’re seven. They’re with their father now in Woodstock, New York. It wasn’t too long ago. I knew I was moving out so I created this Myspace page and it has the poop song and stuff that we did together, and videos. They have a really good sense of humor. They’re old souls. Go to their Myspace—it’s called Little Feet Learning Center. It’s my first friend on Myspace, and you can see tons that you wouldn’t believe. I started strumming and we started singing. The melody just came out. Kids that age—they like to talk about poop a lot.
Why did you move to L.A.?
For the music. I came out here in August and I played a show or two and I knew that my music would do well out here and just my personality. I wanted to stay. I’ve played in New York City and it’s just not the same. But out here something just clicked with my soul and my heart. I’m looking for a record label so I can start touring. I think it’s going to happen this year. I can see it. I can. I can kind of see things. I was thinking of burning a bunch of CDs and throwing them, and random people will pick them up—because if you believe in fate and destiny, it will land in the right hands.
What do you mean ‘you see things?’
I’ll ask myself a question about something or someone and I’ll say, ‘Oh, can I see myself doing this or being with this person or so and so?’ And if I can see it right away or if it feels right, I know it’ll come to pass.
What do you plan to do in the springtime?
What goes on in the spring? I think people get horny.
If you were a shelf in a record store, what albums would you want to hold up?
Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson when he sings—well, he can be there anytime because he’s kind of sexy. I guess Gene Wilder if he sang. Do you know the guy that played Ernest played old country songs—Jim Varney? So him—singing bootlegs. I guess Bob Dylan. I like Bob Dylan. Bette Midler singing ‘The Rose.’ George Jones singing ‘She’s My Rock.’ There’d probably be a kid’s song or something.
What imaginary place would you play a show in?
Ooh. Have you heard of the Land of Pan? I think maybe Edgar Cayce says it’s Atlantis…I don’t know if this all the same thing…and then my friend says there’s this place called Lemuria, today. It’s this place, maybe Lord of the Rings-like, you know, with fairies and all these other creatures. And there’s magic. And the waters are really blue and the grass is really green and the sky is very blue. It would be outside. And I would play when it was daylight and then a lot of people would play and it would become nighttime and then the magic stuff really gets intense.
What would it smell like?
Pine needles. Pine straw. Do you know what pine straw is? If you grow up in the South and you don’t have snow, you can slide on pine straw. It’s needles that fall from pine trees and they turn brown. You can slide. They’re really slick. So it smells like that. And all the things that smell good.
All of them?
Yeah, pure things that smell good. What do you mean all of them? No fake colognes or perfumes. That’s sort of scary. You know how you see someone and you pass by ‘em and they have this sort of smell. Because perfume is sort of not natural in a way. Maybe some is—fancy perfume—but it becomes very enclosing. Like a box.
What bathroom accessory do you think you’d be if you were a bathroom thing or hygienic product?
Shampoo, because you go in the hair, but then you get rinsed out, but the smell lingers, so you don’t have to be committed to the person, but they still want you and your essence is still there.
What do you think about the apocalypse?
There is something coming, but for me it’s like the end of something and the beginning of something new. Something incredible. You know how the ‘60s never really took off? People didn’t get out of it what they wanted to get out of it? I think this time people are going to get out what they want. You know about the law of attraction? I mean, feelings and your thoughts really do make your reality. And I’ve noticed in L.A., that it’s very magical here. Manifestations and things happen a lot quicker. There’s something magical about it. And this town is called ‘the angels.’ So, I think there’s a lot of angels here—maybe broken-down ones and sad ones.
Do you believe in ghosts?
Believe in ‘em? They just are. They’re hanging around. And if you can see…Your brain only lets you see certain things. Like your eyes can see a ghost, but your brain just won’t allow you to see the ghost because it would mess up everything you’ve ever believed in. Because someone always said there’s no such thing as ghosts. Because you wouldn’t want to go crazy all of a sudden. So your eyes can see it but your brain won’t let you.
What can you tell me about planets?
Well, you start talking about your signs and the planets and you have people that start saying they don’t believe in that. And I think sometimes people don’t want to believe that the planets have influence over us because they don’t like the idea of being controlled by anything because it’s a free-will universe. It’s like—you’re born at a certain time. You are who you are, so when you’re born, the planets represent who you are. If you get lost about yourself, you can look at your chart. For example, Venus is in my 12th house and that’s not good because it means I have a lot of secret relationships. And I do have secret relationships. And my very first boyfriend—he was a school teacher, when I was a student. Do you ever feel like you’re playing a role, like you’re kind of magical? Like Venus. I’m just using Venus as an example. Or I would say, like, the wise old magician guy. The wizard. You know, the shamans around the world—and then, you know, you ever meet those people that are kind of this ‘older man’? They seem to be alone, but you just know they’re wise and you want to learn from them? There’s different versions of them everywhere.
Have you encountered one recently?
The father of my twins—he’s kind of like that. He’s kind of wizardy. The way he looks. He’s a very good musician. He’s the one that taught me guitar.
What was your first guitar?
I played his. But my Jumbo Western. It’s not fancy—it’s cheap. My friend Ed Mack got this for me before I could play and he got burned up in a fire. It’s funny. My grandmama, she fell in a fire when I was a kid. She was drunk and we had this big hole—she used to put trash in there and burn it. And she was drunk, poking the trash down, and she fell in the fire. But anyway, Ed used to take care of her after she got burned and then he ended up— he had a few strokes, he was skinny—and he ended up with a fire in his house. Sorry. I have these weird stories.
If you had to give up your eyes or your ears, what would you choose?
Ears. ‘Cause hearing runs really bad in my family. We all wear hearing aids. Some of my cousins—who are younger than me—they wear hearing aids. So I think it would be an easy adjustment. If you couldn’t see, you could get hit by a car. If you couldn’t see, how would you know that someone was handsome and you wanted to marry him?
Maybe it would be how their body felt.
Yeah, that’s more important, ain’t it? You ever heard about astral projection? It’s the state between sleeping and waking. You can see through your eyelids. You’d be able to see an astral realm, even if you couldn’t see in this physical plane. You could probably hear though, too. Maybe it’s a question that doesn’t need an answer. I used to ask my mama which of us kids she loved the best. It was something in me that needed to be loved the most out of all of them. But as I got older, I realized it was a stupid question.
Do you see yourself going back to Georgia one day?
I see myself being here. It feels more like home than anyplace. I have to get a job. I love Georgia and I do have to go back there to refresh. It’s just slow and it’s pure.