May 19, 2005
Ray LaMontagne is a thirty one year-old who is poised on the cusp of... recognition? Talents like Ray LaMontagne don't become stars in the traditional sense, they become heroes, cult figures--somehow in the expression of their art they make things better, troubles in some way become clearer--they soothe the aches that dwell beneath the bruises.
Here is Lamontagne recounting how, after leaving home following his high school graduation, he slowly found his way onto the path he is now following...
Four years later, while working long hours in a Lewiston, Maine, shoe factory, he experienced an epiphany -- one that shook him out of his deep ennui.
“This was a particularly dark and weird time for me,” he recounts. “I never saw the light of day for months. One morning, after I’d worked there for about a year, I had my clock set for 4 a.m., like always, and I woke up to this amazing sound coming from the clock radio. It was Stephen Stills, doing a song called ‘Tree Top Flyer.’ I just sat up in bed and listened. Something about that song just hit me. I did not go to work that day; I went to record stores and sought that album out. It was called Stills Alone. I listened to it, and I was transformed. It killed me…it was huge. You don’t know how those things happen. I just knew: ‘This is what I’m gonna do.’ That morning really changed everything -- my whole life.
“So I quit my job. I knew I wanted to sing, which was really crazy, because I never even talked to anybody. I just had this feeling that it was somewhere inside me, and I had to find it and let it out. So I learned the songs on that record and started listening to Crosby, Stills & Nash, then I discovered Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Ray Charles, Otis Redding. I would spend hours just listening to records. Later, I got very intense about singing; I would just sing and sing, and hurt and hurt, because I knew I wasn’t doing it right. Over a period of years I taught myself to sing from the gut and not from the nose.”
Listen to live recordings from Ray's performance at 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville, TN.
+ Forever My Friend
courtesy of WRLT, Nashville
*BONUS: here is the song Ray mentions being a catalyst in his birth as a singer/songwriter, Stephen Stills "Tree Top Flyer"
at 11:10 PM