Ronnie Fauss simply describes himself as a folk singer with a honky-tonk band behind him. But on his album I Am the Man You Know I’m Not, the Texan strives to stand out on the crowded Americana landscape.
“To me, there’s nothing worse than a generic white guy with a guitar singing generic songs. It’s painful,” he tells CMT Edge. “So I’m very intentional about trying to avoid that — primarily by attempting to write lyrics that avoid being too straightforward and have a bit of a twist to them.”
With a new video for “Good Enough,” Fauss exchanged emails with CMT Edge about reconsidering the melody, choosing an album title and contradicting himself in his lyrics.
CMT Edge: What were you trying to capture with the song “Good Enough”?
Fauss: Lyrically, let’s just say it was one of my darker periods. Kind of a painful stretch, and when I listen back to those lyrics, I really feel that. This is not a song sung by a man who knows what he wants and where he is going. Musically, I had been playing it live as a long, rambling, gothic country ballad, clocking in right around seven minutes, and that’s how I brought it into the studio.
When I played it for the producer [Sigurdur Birkis] and engineer [Taylor Tatsch], their response was along the lines of ”Um, that might be a bit long, buddy.” They offered the idea to turn it into more of an up-tempo Americana rock thing. So we chopped it up, cut it down and forced the tempo. I would have never thought of going that route myself, but I loved it. It turned into my favorite track on the album, a testament to the power of collaboration.
Where does the sentiment behind the album’s title come from?
It was an argument with a friend who told me, “You’re not the man I thought you were.” I wanted to diffuse the situation, turn it on its ear. So I offered in return, “Yeah, well, I am the man you know I’m not.” It managed to stop the discussion in its tracks, which was the goal.
Then I thought, “I should hold on to that. It could come in handy.” I never quite worked it into a song … but it stuck as an album title for this batch of songs. There’s a lot of conflicting sentiments in this album — from track to track, sometimes from line to line! I’m happy, I’m sad, I’m settled, I’m wandering. It contradicts itself all over the place, kind of like that title. That’s why it stuck.
Do you find it easier to write about things that get you down or feeling great?
There’s definitely value in both, but for me, the songs tend to come more naturally when I’m focused on the darker things that are happening around me or to me. That’s when the lyrics and melodies come out of me like a faucet. It’s how I process the confusing, unfortunate, heavy things.
Enjoy the no-frills video and feel Ronnie Fauss’ pain on “Good Enough.”