Books

Part prose, part album, and part photographic essay, Western Skies is singer-songwriter Darden Smith’s stunning homage to the mythologies of Texas and companion to his music release of the same name.

Amid a series of road trips across West Texas, Darden Smith—Austin-based musician, author, and creative—found himself writing songs at the wheel and taking Polaroid photographs of the stark and ghostly terrain. Inspired by the spirit of the landscape, Smith scribbled his observations in a notebook and found new life in old lyrics—and between the prose, the music, and the images he captured with his camera, Western Skies came vividly to life.

This beautifully designed and collectible book combines everything Smith captured and created during his travels. Features include:

  • Dozens of Smith’s personal Polaroid images
  • Sixteen new essays 
  • A foreword by Grammy Award–winner Rodney Crowell
  • The lyrics of Smith’s latest album, also entitled Western Skies
  • Link to a free download of the complete Western Skies album with book purchase

The perfect companion piece to his latest album, also titled Western Skies, this arresting travelogue celebrates the sights and sounds of West Texas in a truly immersive and transportive way. 

The Habit of Noticing: Using Creativity to Make a Life (and a Living)  is Darden Smith’s most adventurous, and certainly most personal project to date. The book is full of stories pulled from his life in and out of music, and the people he has met along the way. The collection is a look at where he comes from, what he’s seen and heard as he tried to figure out how to get along in the world, his inspirations and influences, the importance of commitment and endurance in tough times, why you should always be yourself, and the beauty that comes from finding meaning in your work and your life.

Along with the stories, the book is full of Smith’s art and photography. Though he started teaching himself to sketch many years ago, until now he has been hesitant to put them on display. In The Habit of Noticing, the images and stories come together to create a larger perspective and message.

Designed by DJ Stout at Pentagram Design, The Habit of Noticing features a forward by highly acclaimed musician and author Warren Zanes (“Tom Petty”).

In collaboration with producer Stewart Lerman, Smith created an audio version of the book that brings together the stories with original music and found sound that brings the tales to life in a truly innovative and supportive way.

The Habit of Noticing is not a how-to manual. It’s not about craft. Rather, it is a collection of stories looking at the mindset of working artists – finding the spark, maintaining it through the rise and fall of a career, and letting the creativity evolve.

By giving readers a look at the struggles and successes in crafting and sustaining a life — and a living — as a working artist, Smith’s hope is that the reader will understand and appreciate what’s required to achieve this balance, as well as the depth and value one can draw from an artist’s approach to work and life.

About the book, Smith says, “The Habit of Noticing is my personal manifesto on the value of art and creativity. It is a statement on what I believe about myself and what I’ve seen to be true for others, and a guidebook for those seeking to bring more creativity into their daily life. I’ve learned a lot about how and why to make a creative life from more than three decades of earning a living as a musician and songwriter. The “how” is a mix of vision, talent, desire, drive, luck and perseverance. As for “why,” it comes down to this: My life is better when I make creativity the driving force in my everyday world.”

Available in hardcover and audiobook formats.