I love a good project. And for me, Marathon is much more than an album with an intimidating bull on the cover. Marathon has been one of my ongoing passions for the past decade — as a concept, a state of mind, a collection of songs and also as an evolving theatre project.
The songs for Marathon were written over several years, in fits and starts beginning early in 2004, and the album was released in August 2010.
As production for Marathon was winding up, I collaborated with Richard Isackes on creating a story to accompany the songs. He wrote a dark series of monologues — mixing deception and revenge, tequila and a few gunshots — and we brought it all together into a dramatic song cycle, with a full band onstage. We experimented over a couple years with different approaches, and the Continental Club Gallery in Austin played host to a series of workshop performances where we refined the production and the script.
The Marathon experience continues to evolve, and I’m exploring a new version for the stage incorporating some of my experiences writing songs in Botswana in 2012.
After Marathon was released, a collaborative book-and-digital-music project with the artist Kate Breakey (remember the fantastic Field of Crows album cover?) and Austin designer DJ Stout followed early in 2011. We took the Marathon lyrics and Kate’s amazing photographs, and unleashed DJ’s visual genius on melding the two. The 32-page book that resulted is a stunning little creation, and it includes six bonus acoustic tracks not on the original album.
And Marathon, by the way, is named after the remote town in West Texas, population 455.