Beau Jennings wrote “The Other Side” in a hotel bathroom in Alabama, far from his home and family. He’d been watching television news and thinking of a giant of civil rights movement. The story of a man struggling to connect with his past, his family and his country spilled out of him, into the shower stall.
“I’d read recently from people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., amongst others, and couldn’t help but feel their urgency with the news on in the background,” Jennings says. “I quickly wrote and made a demo on my iPhone — in my hotel bathroom, because it had the best acoustics.”
The song is a plea for connection from a man who’s found himself on the other side of his family, country and lord and yearns for a bridge to reach them. It’s a song about feelings of isolation but the warm classic rock instrumentation makes it clear that bridging the distance is possible.
The video, directed by Bradley Beesley, juxtaposes the band performing the song with a high school wrestling meet. The grapplers pound on the mat at the top of the video but as the sounds of their fists fade, the sense of aggression and being in opposition fades along with it. The camera follows the wrestlers as they move slowly and stick close to each other. After a while, it seems less like fighting and more like dancing.
Jennings, the former frontman of indie-rock/Americana band Cheyenne, knows a thing about bridging distances with art through his years-long study and celebration of cowboy philosopher Will Rogers. Jennings’ documentary film and album The Verdigris: In Search of Will Rogers retraces Rogers’ life journey from coast to coast and tells Oklahoma’s favorite son’s story through original songs. After premiering on public television stations nationwide through American Public Television in 2015, the doc garnered a nomination for a Heartland Emmy.
Although he’s released five full-length albums over the years, both as a solo artist and with Cheyenne, Jennings says his new album, his first with his new band The Tigers, “feels like the first chapter of a new career.”
“We’ve played together for years,” Jennings says. “And things kept coming together, kept building, we kept looking for and eventually found our sound. This album is the natural result of that.”
Recording the album, Jennings’ loose goal was making a classic summertime rock and roll record.
“The songs are about people and places I know,” he added. “It allowed me to get out of my own way, so to speak. I got to thinking about the stories of everyday people and the things that happen while they’re just living their lives.”