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Jesus On The Radio (Two Ways)

by Joe Pisapia

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Jesus On The Radio (2 Ways.)

I always like when someone makes the “2 ways” move on Chopped. It shows chutzpah. And while it’s not specifically analogous, I did use different flavor profiles for each version (AM/FM,) of JOTR. Also available to me were the pantry and fridge. But I digress.

Nostalgia is one of those waves that can come on when you least expect it, like when you smell a perfume or dish soap. Mine came on for obvious reasons, but it was a stronger dose than usual, as I was up till the wee hours. As much as I try to be a normal, functioning adult, I still get caught up in the magic of the late night for creativity. Things tend to occur to me at night that politely hide during the day.

So there I was in the middle of the night mixing the FM version of this song, and very vividly recalling the fateful day when Ryan Miller stopped by my apartment, when and where we would write this song.

It was 2001 and the Guster guys were in town working on Keep It Together with producer Roger Moutenot. Both my apartment and Sound Emporium Studios were on Belmont Blvd within a mile of each other.

Because it is Ryan Miller we’re talking about here, he rode his bike window of the bedroom where my “studio” was, knocked, and insisted that he climb in that way, rather than using the door.

I made some coffee, we chatted about life and music and he showed me rough mixes of yet untitled songs like “Say That To My Face” and “Long Way Down.” I played him some of the rough mixes of my record which would become “Daydreams.” I was relaying to him my current fetish for banjo and Al Kooper style organ, and the next thing you know we were writing JOTR and recording a quick demo.

Forever etched in my mind is a young Ryan Miller in a modified “child’s pose” on the floor, flashing a sneaky grin, while playing my Lowrey organ bass pedals with his fists. Honestly it just felt like we were goofing around, trying on musical hats, if you will, so I was surprised and excited when he told me that they wanted to record a version of the song for their upcoming album.

So that’s what I remember mostly… the afternoon sun setting in on two friends having some musical fun together. But looking back now, I see that it was that very moment when my life would change. This song was about to be the first of many collaborations with the Guster team.

A year or so later I spent my fist night on a tour bus, which would become my de-facto home for the next 8 years.

Brian from the fan page, Gusterhoids, asked if I would bang out a quick video version of this song for JOTR day—(March 16th,) for those not in the know. But as I started fooling with it, I just sort of got inspired to go a little deeper. I thought it would be kind of funny to do a synth arpeggiator in lieu of the banjo… and that’s how the whole thing started. I recorded the FM version in the afternoon and later on that night I got the urge to do the AM version. The next day I recorded the organ and had my wife Jennie Okon come in and lay down some sweet harmony.

I believe it was the spirit, the energy of this exercise that reminded me of the emotional currents of the day of my first collaboration with Ryan. Maybe that’s why I got flooded with such a specific flavor of nostalgia— and also gratitude—heavy gratitude for my Guster brethren.

Happy Jesus On The Radio day to all that celebrate it!


released March 16, 2019

Joe played all the instruments, Jennie Okon sang on JOTR (AM,) and Drew Rollo tended to the video needs.


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Joe Pisapia Nashville, Tennessee

Joe Pisapia is a singer, songwriter, mulit-instrumentalist, recordist and producer living and working in Nashville, TN. His production and/or songwriting credits include k.d. lang, Ben Folds, Guster, Drew Holcomb, The Silver Seas, Josh Rouse.

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