The seeds for Natalie D-Napoleon’s new single ‘Gasoline and Liquor’ were sown along a dusty highway in California’s Mojave Desert.
The Australian/American singer-songwriter was driving to Joshua Tree along the Pearblossom Highway with her photographer husband, Brett Leigh Dicks, when, among the Joshua Trees and dry desert washes, she saw a roadside sign that read “Gasoline and Liquor.”
“As soon as I saw the sign and said to my husband, ‘that’s a song – but it’s a man’s song’,” Natalie recalled. “I then told him, ‘you’ve gotta help me write it!’”
Once they returned from their desert ramblings, the pair passed lyrics back and forth as Natalie honed the music. A week before she was set to record the new album, the arrangement magically fell into place. Like the rest of You Wanted To Be The Shore But Instead You Were The Sea, “Gasoline & Liquor” was recorded in an old Californian chapel with a single microphone and features long-time Lucinda Williams sidekick – Doug Pettibone – on pedal steel.
“In Gasoline and Liquor, I wanted to capture the essence of the Californian desert, in particular towns like Victorville and Barstow that cling to the edge of the Mojave Desert,” Natalie explained.
“Those towns have an apocalyptic, edge of civilisation feel to them. A lot of people move there to escape their past and there’s a sense of lost souls and broken dreams which, as a songwriter, I find captivating. A lot of desert folk are tough, gritty characters who’ve been through a lot in their lives. I wanted to pay homage to the resilience of these kinds of characters.”
In making a video for the song, Natalie turned to the other ‘Wild West’ – that of her home state, Western Australia.
“I wanted to make a video that reflected the bleak desert landscape which inspired the song,” Natalie said. “Since we’re currently in Australia we went to the western mining town of Kalgoorlie where there’s no shortage of abandoned gas stations and outback pubs.
“One of my favourite places is a quintessential outback pub called the Broad Arrow Tavern which is miles from anywhere. The crusty outback characters and bar flies stared at us menacingly during the entire shoot, leaving us pondering whether we would get out of there alive.”
They almost didn’t. In true outback Australian tradition, the crew grabbed their cameras and equipment just as the obligatory bar brawl broke loose.
Natalie is releasing a special edition of “Gasoline & Liquor” via Bandcamp which includes a limited edition signed photographic print – Discount Gasoline & Liquor, Blythe, California, 2018 – by Brett Leigh Dicks. GO HERE FOR THAT OFFER.