Charlie Greene Reveals an “Inside” Job


If you ask Charlie Greene to sum up his new recording, “I’m Going Inside,” this is what he’ll tell you: “‘I’m Going Inside’ is the last clicking gear that lights the match that burns the rope that releases the hound that runs you off the edge of the cliff into the wild blue yonder.”

Based in Los Angeles. and playing two shows in Nashville this month, Greene cites Merle Haggard and jazz musician Ornette Coleman as influences, which kind of puts him in unusual territory. Fortunately, this colorful character embraces his unusual perspective. He answered a few email questions for CMT Edge earlier this week.

CMT Edge: What were you hoping to capture when you wrote “I’m Going Inside”?

Greene: A feeling of being on the edge of something. The whirl of thoughts and the pull of forces of habit that can spin you around before you head into something new and leap clear of the clockwork. There’s nothing in the lyric that makes you sorta zoom in on one specific image or scenario, it could be a whorehouse or a job interview or both I suppose.

If anything I was trying to keep it nebulous and full of meaning without necessarily meaning a damn thing … ha. I think at one point I was drawing on childhood memories of the movie The Black Hole with Maximillian Schell and those floating robots going in as the ship is falling apart around them; I just looked it up and in the plot summary it says, “What lies beyond the Black Hole? Immortality … or, Oblivion .. ?”

Yeah!!! That’s what I was going for.

Do you feel that living in L.A. influences the vibe of your music?

Probably not … but maybe so? I usually write with the windows drawn while watching Rockford Files re-runs so I could be just about anywhere.

What is it about Merle Haggard’s music that draws you in?

All of it … the voice, the musical creativity, his humor and lyrical courage. I saw him play recently and he sang, “I believe Jesus is God/And a pig is just ham.” I’ve been turning that over and over in my head ever since. I’m not quite sure why but I feel very sympathetic to that sort of strangeness. Later on he says, “I do what I do ‘cause I give a damn.” Hells yeah!