It’s important to have a healthy sense of skepticism. Of course, one wants to trust everyone, one wants to look someone in their eyes and believe their word. But the older you get, the more you realize life is much murkier, there is body language outside what can be seen in the eyes, there is truth beyond what comes out of other people’s mouths. This is the subject matter of the single by Pacific Northwest artist, Ian Jones. The song, “Liars, Criminals, Beggers, and Thieves,” highlights the need to understand that those who “talk a good game,” as Jones says, may not always walk the proverbial good walk.
“This song was born when I realized that most elected officials,” Jones tells American Songwriter, “not all, are for sale. They always talk a good game when they are running for office, but then seem to roll over and just play along once they get elected. It doesn’t seem to be one side or another. It’s all sides.”
Jones says he started the track years ago but never finished it. Yet, every election cycle, new ideas, and new ambitions strike. Finally, he sat down with a fellow songwriter and honed the vision.
“My goal was to write the song from a non-partisan point of view,” Jones says. “I feel like everyone, regardless of political affiliation, can listen to this song and say, ‘Yeah, exactly!’”
In this way, Jones has done something that most politicians can’t—he’s created something that unifies. It’s a populist message; one that says, We see you over there, taking us for fools. For Jones, the wreckage from politicians feels like a Hatfield and McCoy or bad college football rivalry.
“One side pitted against the other,” he says. “Unfortunately, the losers in the game are the constituents.”
Messaging aside, the new song is traditional with a modern, even jaunty rhythm. It’s a country track with old-fashioned-yet-bright playing and singing style. It’s got vocal turns and wordplay and a sense of sharing the music with a neighbor, a friend, coworker, or collaborator for the sake of camaraderie, not victory.
“I often joke and say that if I wasn‘t a songwriter, my therapy bill would be as much as I‘ve spent on making music over the years,” Jones says. “The inspiration for ‘Liars, Criminals, Beggars, and Thieves’ was to try to complete the song without taking sides. I wanted it to be honest and as factual as possible while not pointing the finger at any one person or group. I also felt like I had to finish it, which hasn‘t happened very often.”
Ian’s EP Evergreens will be released on 10/22 via Thin Silver Records.
(All photos by Justin Dylan Renney)