Sometimes songs arrive in the blink of an eye. Other times, it takes more work to get them closer to the finish line. The latter happened to be the case for singer/songwriter Ike Reilly's new single, 'Racquel Blue'.
"It had been hanging around for a while, with broken verses and different versions of the chorus", Reilly told Holler. Listen to 'Racquel Blue' below.
Over the years and across many different versions, the people in Reilly's life rallied around the song. Reilly's wife Kara Dean had heard him play it, on and off, for years. "She always wanted me to get after it and finish it for a recording", he said. Reilly's bandmate Adam Krier heard him play it one night and echoed Dean's sentiment.
Finally, he gathered his band, The Assassination, in the studio and ran through it. "The band immediately knew what to do with it", Reilly explained. "They created that cinematic vibe, and I just sang and played a few little acoustic runs. We did three takes and the third one was the one we used for the album".
The end result is a 7-minute epic.
The atmospheric song, which winds between touches of Americana and alt-country, tells the story of an acid washed journey from "the gangster airport" up the "suicide highway". Through it all, the narrator pines for "Racquel Blue".
"I know we never made a promise/ It was clear right from the start/ I'll forever be a tourist/ And you forever break my heart", Reilly sings with a gravelly edge to his voice.
"The characters in the song are fictional, but they are based on some real living people that [Kara and I] both love and some disjointed memories that we both lean on", Reilly said. "There is also a sense of longing, failure, and heartbreak that my family and I have shared that turns up in the song — not so clear from the lyrics but from the whole sonic nature of that recording".
For all the work that went into 'Racquel Blue', the song captures some of Reilly's sharpest storytelling. "I hope ['Racquel Blue'] transports listeners somewhere far from where they exist", he said. "I hope they feel love and loss and hope".
'Racquel Blue' appears on Reilly's forthcoming album Because the Angels, out October 15 via Rock Ridge Music.
(Ike Reilly photo by Grant Herbek.)