Some of the greatest tunes of the American songbook are bred of the open road. The blood, sweat, and tears of a working musician’s life feed a creative appetite to cultivate those experiences into the work. Singer-songwriter Tai Shan combs a relentless two years touring North America in a 13-foot vintage trailer for her forthcoming album, Traveling Show. With a new song called “Ripe on the Vine,” premiering today on American Songwriter, she offers a tale about mature, comfortable love.
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“I don’t want to work so hard / I don’t want to stay up late / I don’t want to fall asleep / Worrying about another day,” she sings. Shan turns over everyday worries, as she seeks out a love that will make it all wash away. “When you come close to me / I get a little ripe on the vine kind of love / Put your arm down my side / We can watch an old movie / Forget about your troubles when you’re kissing on me / We can stay right here / And get a little ripe on the vine kind of love.”
“Ripe on the Vine,” featuring husband and musician Austin Garrison on background vocals, stemmed from an especially trying time. “The song came to me during the summer – a musicians’ busy season – and this particular summer I had so much work scheduled that I had only two days off from April to September,” says Shan. “Driving home on a warm July night, after playing a wedding in the country, I started singing, ‘I don’t want to work so hard, I don’t want to stay up late. I want some ripe-on-the-vine kinda love.’ I was exhausted and a bit sweaty when a big yellow moon peeked out and lit the curving highway.”
The moon cresting the horizon, Shan was immediately swept back to her youth. “I sang [this] as that moon rose, just like I used to when I was a five-year-old kid in the back of my mother’s car. By the time I got home, I had the song finished. When I performed it, people would ask, ‘What does a ripe-on-the-vine love mean?’”
Well, the answer is quite simple. She explains, “A love that is past the first date jitters, the passionate flings, the figuring each other out and instead is about the calm quiet moments where you enjoy just snuggling on the couch and watching a movie after a long day.”
The airy, sentimental ode, dedicated to her husband, was recorded in Seattle with a grant Shan received from the Jack Straw Cultural Center. Musicians playing include electronica drummer Devin Bews, jazz bassist Marina Christopher, and funk keyboardist Joey Walbaum.
The Traveling Show (produced by Mark Blasco) arrives everywhere April 2.
Listen to “Ripe on the Vine” below.
Photo Credit: Amy Catherine