There’s a clearly sung Michigan reference in “Closer to Love,” one of the songs on singer-songwriter Mat Kearney’s latest album, “City of Black & White.” But, with apologies to those on this side of Lake Michigan, the mention was inspired on the other side of the water.
“Chicago has always been a huge part of my life,” says Kearney, 30, who was born in Oregon and now is based in Nashville, Tenn. “My manager has a boat in a dock on the lake, and I’ve had some special moments on that boat.
“I came down last year during Lollapalooza and just watched Wilco and skipped out instead of spending all night there. I went back to the dock, took a shower with a hose and sat there thinking and writing. It seemed like a special moment for me and the record, just sitting there looking at the lake and thinking about Michigan on the other side.”
“City of Black & White” also includes a song called “Fire & Rain,” which is considerably different than James Taylor’s hit of the same name but still gave Kearney pause before going ahead with the title.
“I wasn’t even thinking about it — and I’m a massive James Taylor fan,” he says with a laugh. “I did have some people who said, ‘Wait a second, you can’t call a song ‘Fire & Rain.’ But it was so obviously the title of the song, so I started walking around, asking people for opinions.
“I found if it was someone over 35 (years old), they said, ‘No, you can’t.’ If they were under 35, it was ‘Why wouldn’t you be able to?’ So I figured I’d offend the older crowd and the younger crowd won’t know. And if anyone hears it, it’s definitely not his ‘Fire & Rain.’ ”
Mat Kearney performs at 7 p.m. Friday (July 3) on the Main Stage at the Comerica Cityfest, in the parking lot of the Fisher Building in Detroit’s New Center Area. Admission is free. Visit www.comericacityfest.com.
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