Gary Reed’s music is a intriguing mix of fingerpicking guitar playing, reminiscent of the finest 1960’s blues guitar players, and heartfelt lyrics that tell tales of love, loss and longing in the best tradition of John Hiatt, Jerry Jeff Walker and other noted tunesmiths.

Little wonder Reed was a regular player at New York’s Bitter End, Folk City, Café’ Wah and Max’s Kansas City during the ‘60s and ‘70s before moving to San Francisco and becoming a regular on that festival scene.

Now based in New Jersey, Reed’s powerful, songs and ardent presentation underscore the musical passion that has fueled and refined his music through the years.

Here he shares with The Alternate Root the story behind his song “This Ain’t No Heart” from his latest album After Before.

“I write a lot of songs in varying styles. Sometimes I think I am too eclectic with too many styles of music so it is difficult to be identified with one type of music. I guess Americana covers that. But, that is how I hear music so I just write what I hear.

When I write I usually start with an idea. That can be the words for the basic meaning of the song, a melody and even a set of chord changes. The ones that stick usually evoke a feeling or a life situation. Then I tighten up and start to settle on how the song will be structured. I find the cord changes and melody that fits the feeling or mood of what I am going for. My songs are not always literal in that what the final words are, they are not all fact based but the feelings in them are based on honest human emotions or life circumstances. Such is the case with “This Ain't No Heart.” Here is how this some evolved.

Have you ever met someone with whom you had chemistry and a connection so strong that it over powered you? This doesn't happen often in life but when it does, its like the world stops. I kind of believe in love at first sight. The moment I met my wife, I knew she was someone special. She was like an angel of shining light. Now she didn't necessarily feel that way, but that is how it was for me. I just knew.

Back to “This Ain't No Heart.” Last year I had been writing songs the first thing in the morning. Somehow that first strum of the guitar sends creative vibrations through my body and I was coming up with chords and melodies that seemed to work. I had been struggling with the power I was feeling because of this woman I met. Oh the evil of temptation was banging on my door. She was pure and elegant and I could tell she had a special love to give. I knew she deserved a good man, a man that could give her that special love back and to honor and to protect that love.

But as the song says, “I’d been around so many times I can't remember, and left broken hearts far behind." That is where the line "So this ain't no heart for a women of your kind" came from. I could have taken advantage of her love but somehow I knew I wasn't going to be able to give that special love back. I just could not bring myself to do it. 

It was a country theme. I love country music because the songs tell real human stories. Simple stories, which are real. Stories that happen to real people in everyday lives. So I took the idea and wrote a country song. Again, I took poetic license in writing the song. But the base idea and emotion was real.” — Nancy Dunham

Buy Gary Reed’s music here.