Born in Selma, AL, and now based in Nashville, rising singer and songwriter Ben Brooks is a fighter, and he’s got a lot to say.
Having successfully overcome leukemia nearly 15 years ago, he followed his music dreams all the way to Music City, and throughout the entire journey, he’s never failed to remain true to himself.
Brooks’ debut album Jean on Jean, out today, is undeniable proof that he has a voice that needs to be heard. Diving deep into his southern roots, the nine-track collection, which was penned by the artist himself, overflows with genuine lyrics and irresistible melodies while addressing relatable topics like dreams, legacies, wanderlust, and love. Even the album’s title was inspired by his current hometown: “Jean on Jean” pays homage to the blue jean-wearing ways of Nashville’s residents.
Holding everything listeners could want, from emotional ballads to vibrant Tom Petty-like anthems, Jean on Jean is rich with the poignant storytelling that only Americana can deliver. Brooks broke down the album track by track exclusively for Musical Notes Global. Check out his thoughts below.
I wrote this song after returning from California. I thought about all the people who moved out to Los Angeles to be famous that you’ve never heard of because they never were. The people who moved out to the west coast to follow their dreams of being a Rockstar or famous actor/actress. Most of them probably either got a job doing something else or moved back home and started a family. I wanted to tell their story and give them the recognition they never got.
In life relationships come and go. People live together, start lives together, spend every day together for a while and then one day it’s over. Some relationships are hard to get over, others not so much. This song is sort of a cinematic look at a relationship that didn’t work out but, is still nice to remember sometimes. Neither party having ill will towards each other but, wishing each other the best. I think that’s how most relationships end up. They just run there coarse with no one person at fault. That’s what I was trying to capture in this song.
NOTHING FOR ME HERE:
This is a simple song about moving on. Sometimes you just get stagnant in one place or you’ve had all the fun there is to be had or there are just no more opportunities. That’s when it’s time to continue the search for whatever it is you’re looking for and start the next chapter. Plus, it’s a good driving song. Maybe that’s because you’re constantly moving on, on the road.
TEARING IT APART:
A few years ago, I was hanging out with my friend Christina on her front porch in East Nashville doing a bit of day drinking. She asked me out of the blue, “do you think if we take our talent for granted, and we’re not doing what we’re put here on this earth to do, our talent will be taken away from us?” I thought it was such a profound statement that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It actually scared me because I do think that is true. Everyone has a contribution to make on this earth and at the time I wasn’t making mine. A week later I had the whole song written. Thanks Christina.
Many cities have a person everyone knows about. Long since died but, memorialized on plaques or statues or gravestones. A historical figure who sort of watches over the town and keeps everyone safe. On the road I’ve seen a lot of these and always thought they were interesting, usually stopping to check them out.
I wrote most of this one on the road while I was driving. It can get pretty lonely out there, especially when you don’t come home for weeks at a time. Maintaining a social or personal life can be very difficult at times. A lot of musicians can relate to that or people who travel for work in general. I was trying to capture some of those feelings and experiences you go through in this song and sort of paint a picture of what it’s like.
SHE WON’T FALL:
This one is about the search for one’s soulmate. Some people find a partner very easily and others spend their whole life looking only to die alone. This song is about the latter. I describe an allusive angel that’s always just out of reach at the end of every verse, “she won’t fall and I can’t stand”. I think a lot of people can relate to this, myself included. It’s hard to find someone you want to spend the rest of your life with and I think it’s amazing when people do.
JACK AND FREUD:
Picture a family man who goes to work every day with a corporate 9 to 5 job to provide for his wife and kids. One day the stress becomes too great and something snaps causing him to have a mental breakdown. He becomes “sick and paranoid” retreating into a life of darkness and substance abuse thinking the CIA is chasing him. All the while he is calling home leaving crazy messages on the answering machine describing the entire experience. Or is he just talking to himself?
PICTURE OF US:
When I was growing up, it was mostly paparazzi taking pictures of celebrities, documenting their every move in magazines so we could see what clothes they wore or what restaurants they frequented etc. Now everyone is documenting their own personal life through social media and we’ve become obsessed with taking/posting pictures of everything we do instead of just enjoying the moment. Living life through the lenses of our collective cell phone cameras. It’s hard not to these days.
Listen to Jean on Jean below.