David Haerle’s new song, “Go Do That With Sharon,” started as an inside joke.
“My longtime partner, Erica, is a very adventurous person and we’ve done a lot of trips together,” the Los Angeles singer-songwriter and guitarist tells American Songwriter. “But there’s a saying that developed where if I mentioned something that I wanted to do that was in a category of zero interest to her, she used the phrase ‘Go do that with Sharon.’”
As Haerle tells it, Sharon is a beloved friend of his and Erica’s who shares Haerle’s enthusiasm for off-the-beaten-track activities.
“We have a very good mutual friend–her name is Sharon and she happens to be a playwright–who is always doing things that some people might find a little offbeat or kooky,” explains Haerle. “So when my partner Erica wouldn’t want to see something–maybe we’d be passing, as the song references, an abandoned waterpark in the middle of the Mojave Desert–I’d genuinely love to explore this abandoned waterpark and Erica’s immediate comment is ‘Go do that with Sharon.’ Of course that means no immediate interest.”
“Go Do That With Sharon” is the first single off Haerle’s forthcoming sophomore album, Death Valley. The song starts out as a tongue-in-cheek survey of Erica-disapproved, Sharon-approved adventures spun over a few verses. At around 3:30 these verses give way to an epic, nearly-minute-long guitar solo. It’s a turning point that ups the stakes of the inside joke, after which the last choruses are wailed against soaring instrumentals. Capping in at almost 6 minutes, the song builds to a head-banging, highway-cruising rock number.
Haerle says the lyrics and instrumentation were written separately, which is typical of his songwriting process.
“More often than not that is the way I write songs,” explains Haerle. “I’m fooling around with the guitar coming up with something that eventually I like, and then I write lyrics separately. I don’t really try to play guitar and write lyrics at the same time. [‘Go Do That With Sharon’] developed from there.”
Musically, Haerle drew inspiration for “Go Do That With Sharon” from a chord progression in Peter Frampton’s 1973 hit “Do You Feel Like We Do.”
“The chord progression on the chorus underneath the guitar solo is absolutely an inspiration from Peter Frampton’s ‘Do You Feel Like We Do,’ says Haerle. “Of course I sing a different melody and it’s a whole different key, but that’s absolutely the chord progression which was huge in the 1970s.”
Death Valley was largely written and recorded over a thirty-six month period between Haerle’s home studio and Sunset Sounds in Hollywood.
“My home studio is good for vocals, guitar, keyboards–pretty much everything but drums,” Haerle says. “So our general recording process is to do a quick track and start laying down pretty much everything there. We often ask our drummer to do what we call ‘rehearsal drums’ where he’ll [play] from his studio. For most of the songs we went over to Sunset Sounds in Hollywood, a wonderful studio I’ve worked at for years and we recorded our basic tracking for the majority of the songs there. Usually that was just drums, bass, sometimes rhythm guitar from me.”
On Death Valley Haerle is joined by a crew of regular collaborators, such as bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Carson Cohen, drummer/percussionist Reade Pryor, bassist/vocalist Jon Lee Keenan, and others. (Cohen and Keenan’s backing vocals can be heard in “Go Do That With Sharon,” particularly in those final soaring choruses.)
When asked how Death Valley compares to his debut album–2018’s Garden of Edendale–Haerle says that on Death Valley he pushed himself to fully commit to each song.
“It’s a similar feel in terms of core instrumentation,” says Haerle. “But I would like to think that I’ve grown as a songwriter in terms of being able to explore themes on this record that I wasn’t ready to explore on the previous record. I had more confidence to follow each song that I was interested in writing–to just follow it through and commit it to record.”
Though Haerle has been playing music for most of his life, his career as a musician has largely taken the backseat to his career as an executive–he’s the President of CMH Label Group, a Los Angeles-based label group whose roster includes several generations of storied bluegrass, country, and alternative rock artists such as The Osborne Brothers, Wanda Jackson, Violent Femmes, and Vitamin String Quartet.
Despite Haerle’s classic rock and Americana influences, he says that he’s most inspired by the hearing beautiful music in general.
“Sometimes in my songwriting there will be an inspiration or something that’s influenced me, but I’m always inspired by music. It’s often a sense of wanting to up my game and do something as beautiful as something I’ve just heard from another artist. Not necessarily to follow too closely, but in a general way to be inspired to up my game.”
Death Valley is out spring 2020 via Edendale Records.