The Marfa Tapes
Marfa, Texas, has played host to countless artists over the years, musical and otherwise. The storied West Texas town is known as much for its vast collection of fine arts as its famed Marfa lights, making it a popular destination for anyone in need of a bit of cosmic inspiration. For Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram, and Jon Randall, Marfa offered the perfect setting for songwriting retreats, so much so that the trio returned for repeat visits over the last few years. “Jon had been preaching Marfa to us for a long time and telling us how magical it was,” Lambert tells Apple Music. “We're all from Texas, but that's like a whole other state in itself over there in that area. That was the first time we'd ever written as a trio even though we had been friends forever. It was instant chemistry, for sure.”
The Marfa Tapes captures the magic the trio found across 15 tracks, recorded in just five days using one acoustic guitar and two microphones. Accordingly, the desert itself plays a prominent sonic role in the project, with the occasional breeze or crackle of firewood adding the kind of intimacy that can’t be created in a recording studio. In addition to a number of new and unreleased songs, the collection includes an emotional, stripped-down version of Lambert’s beloved The Weight of These Wings song “Tin Man” as well as an acoustic take on Wildcard’s “Tequila Does.” Below, the trio offers insight into two of the highlights on The Marfa Tapes.
“Ghost” Lambert: “That was one of those moments where I was actually venting. I was telling them two things I had done recently to make myself feel better. Some of that involves burning some clothes that weren't mine. That's how the ball started rolling.” Randall: “We were stuck. We were sitting around a fire, and we were playing the song over and over. It never had that thing, whether it's a hook or just someone to make it real. That's when she goes, ‘And heaven knows I ain't afraid of ghosts.’ I started freaking out. [Jack] got up and danced around.”
“Amazing Grace (West Texas)” Lambert: “That was all Jon Randall.” Ingram: “Around the mountains, you can see for a hundred miles. We saw this cloud and the storm coming in. You could see it raining and how it just looks gray all the way to the ground. It rolled into the ranch where we stayed, the bunk house. It was just beautiful. That song was just like a soundtrack to what we were seeing and the landscape, just the people and the towns and the cows. It's like a soundtrack to our trip.” Randall: “I can remember how it felt to be at that table outside writing the song. You become part of your own picture.”