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Today on Ecléctico you're listening to Neal Casal, a roots-based singer, songwriter, and guitarist who left behind a wealth of music from a deep solo catalog and a vast collection of collaborations (Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, the Grateful Dead, Widespread Panic, Todd Snider, and more) when he took his own life in 2019 at the age of 50. In his honor today, what would have been his 52nd birthday, we encourage you to join Ecléctico in learning more about and supporting mental health and wellness resources for musicians and artists. Organizations we're backing today and for the long haul are Backline, MusiCares, and Be Good To Yourself.
You'll go deeper with an excerpt from an interview between Neal Casal and writer Matt Farber on No Depression from 2012.
"White House Round Fence" by Neal Casal
2012 | Songwriter, singer, guitarist, and photographer from New Jersey
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I think that “White Fence Round House” is one of the strongest songs I’ve ever written. I wrote it after nearly drowning during a surf session with my friend DJ in San Diego County. It really shook me up and humbled me. I’d been going through some personal turbulence at the time and when I got home, I picked up a guitar and the song poured out of me in ten minutes. It’s like I wasn’t even writing the song, it just came streaming through. The power of being held in the ocean grabbed my unconscious and rattled that song out of me, it was something of a heavy experience.
I have no formula for [songwriting], it can be anything at all. That’s the best part about it really. I’m always on the lookout for life’s details. I write it all down, keep mental notes, and see what comes through when I sit down to write. Songwriting is a total mystery to me. I’ve been at it for more than half my life and I still only have the slightest understanding of it. There are few things more rewarding than writing a good song.