Three Chords and a Bottle of Wine | Crooked Roads

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About the artist

My first memory of music was listening to my mom’s Beatles records—sometime after my birth in ’64 and before ’73. I consciously said to myself, “If there is a god, he’s speaking through these guys.” Their records were unbelievably bright and vibrant. My dad had some records of Joshua Rifkin playing Scott Joplin rags too. I liked those melodies—really catchy. I used to play the melodies on the piano—just one finger plunking it out. Dad played piano and guitar and trombone, but I never did anything beyond that noodling around on the piano. It always seemed beyond a mortal human like me to come up with melodies the way The Beatles did—how does that happen?
I played trumpet in my middle and high school bands at my dad’s urging, but dropped music when I went to college. Then the summer after my junior year, I discovered another record, one that was by then over 20 years old: Dylan’s Freewheelin’. That affected me differently than The Beatles did. I heard tenderness there, and other things more indefinable. That’s when I picked up an acoustic guitar and learned some chords. Then I got every Dylan album I could find, and it was like discovering riches. I got into REM, too, and Elvis Costello and Van Morrison. After college I discovered, through Dylan, Woody Guthrie and other folk guys, then Hank Williams and later Gram Parsons.
It took me awhile to go from playing other people’s songs to writing my own. It went from dabbling to more and more serious, until it even seemed I had a knack for writing melodies—that thing that I’d always thought was so magical and beyond me. I discovered that writing words was the hard part!
Over the years I’ve rounded up a lot of great musicians from the Bay Area where I live who have done me the honor of playing with me. Members come and go as lives change, but I’ve called every combination Crooked Roads. As William Blake wrote: “Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of Genius.” –Chris Dingman


I got three chords and a bottle of wine
I think for tonight I’ll be fine
I got a Kranich and Bach
And I know how to rock
My own mind

Ain’t playin for nobody else
Just the books that are lining my shelf
I don’t need no applause
I just do it because
It’s fun as hell

The full moon is silvery bright
I stop and look out at the night
Then I look down at my cup
Think I’ll fill it back up
With more wine

And everybody’s looking for signs
But I don’t need a sign tonight

A woman’s love turn off and on
Think I’ll go where I always belong
Where there are no more words
Just the sound of the birds
In the dawn