Thirty years ago singer-songwriter R Michael Rhodes walked away from a promising career in music. In the 1980s, Rhodes recorded some sides in Nashville that broke into the country charts, but the blessings and responsibilities of domestic life directed his path elsewhere. One transformative night he found peace at a crossroads where his past intersected with his present.
“My parents had joined a senior’s organization where they got together once a month for dinner and entertainment, and my mom talked me into playing it. I know this may sound a little silly, but that was a complete turning point for me,” the Colorado-based artist confides. Three decades later, he follows up those auspicious country singles with the EP, Please Remember Me, a tenderly introspective album that melds the gentle beauty of 1970s Laurel Canyon rock (James Taylor, The Eagles) with just the right touch of contemporary Nashville.
Creatively reinvigorated after that epiphanic evening of performing, Rhodes began to craft a batch of songs and construct a home studio. The new music he was writing had the timelessness of his lifelong influences Bread, The Eagles, England Dan and John Ford Coley, James Taylor, Garth Brooks, and Kenny Chesney but also possessed a vibrant reflective quality unique to his life perspective and his matured songwriting sensibilities. He demoed these tracks at home and was so buoyed by the results, he opted to give them the Nashville treatment.
Rhodes writes with elegant simplicity, keeping close to the core emotionality of each song’s intent. “Where Are You Now” is a track about a friend who suffered a severe injury and never fully regained consciousness. Here he sings boldly vulnerable lines like: Where Are You Now/ I wonder if I ever cross your mind /Where Are You Now /I wish that I could say /I wish I knew a way / I’d like to say I love you one more time. There is a sweet weariness to his singing that conveys compassionate wisdom. On “Please Remember Me” he writes with sensitive conviction from the vantage point of his eldest son saying goodbye to his high school girlfriend as summer ends and the two attend colleges on different coasts.
The standout track, “A Little Bit Tighter,” was a co-write with hit songwriter Steve Dean (writer of number ones for Rodney Atkins, George Strait, Oak Ridge Boys, Lee Greenwood). It’s a glorious slice of rollicking country reflecting the euphoric creativity of its origins. “While in Nashville, I got the opportunity to do a mentoring session with Steve Dean,” Rhodes recalls. “After we finished the song he said ‘Get in my car’ and the next thing I know we’re screaming down the highway to an impromptu meeting with the head of BMI.”
Rhodes was born in eastern Wyoming near the beautiful Black Hills. As a kid, he would reimagine the flyswatter as a guitar and joyfully strum it. Music was an inevitable creative path for him. After college, he had some minor hits on an independent Nashville record label, but family life and being a provider became his focus. The final blow came when his brother passed away. He was a talented bassist and musical sparring partner for Rhodes. “I really walked away from music then, although I did keep my chops up playing in church,” he says.
Please Remember Me brought up a lot of feelings Rhodes couldn’t forget. “I dedicated the CD to my brother and my buddy who I wrote ‘Where Are You Now’ for,” he says with a heavy pause. “I took the CD to my buddy’s mom and I will never forget her reaction as she read that dedication inscription while the song was playing.” For R Michael Rhodes the EP was the healing junction where family and music could lovingly coexist. Now he looks forward to sharing the joy of newfound creativity with others.