Ballroom Marfa invited Eleanore Friedberger out to Marfa for a weeklong recording residency in 2012. While she was driving from Austin to Marfa, she mentioned that she was feeling “a little bit miserable.” Her low spirits convinced her that if she was going to record a 7-inch here, it would include “I’ll Never Be Happy Again,” a heartbreaking song about the moment when sadness invades relationships, and how “after perfection, it’s all downhill.”
Upon arrival, Friedberger’s Chinati Foundation tour guide volunteered to take her on a motorcycle ride down Pinto Canyon, a deserted ranch to market road that dead-ends at the Mexican border. Then, while shopping for dinner, the grocery store checker introduced himself as Gory Smelley, who would soon be recording and mixing her session at the Marfa Recording Company. Smelley’s young daughter joined her on stage for a brief standup comedy routine a few nights later during her intimate solo show at the Crowley Theater.
The 7-inch single she recorded at the Marfa Recording Company features a crew of Marfa players — the Cashiola brothers, Chris Hillen and Brian LeBarton — known from local bands like Candles and Hotel Brotherhood. Colt Miller of the Cobra Rock Boot Company accompanies Eleanor with banjo and pedal steel, adding the finishing touches to the session’s classic West Texas sound.
The A-side “I’ll Never Be Happy Again” is a new song that fans might recognize from Eleanor’s live sets during tours supporting 2011’s Last Summer album. It appears here as a sonorous country ballad, well suited to the lonely environs of the high desert grasslands.
For the B-side, Eleanor chose to cover Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s “Dallas,” a tribute to her father’s record collection. “My dad only listened to classical music,” she remembers, but after taking a Texas Tech job in Lubbock when she was 14, the Flatlanders showed up on his stereo. “For the longest time ‘Dallas’ was the only song I knew that wasn’t one of mine. To get to record it in West Texas was special; I couldn’t think of a better place to do it.”
Eleanor Friedberger’s new 7-inch, “I’ll Never Be Happy Again” b/w “Dallas,” was published as a limited edition of 500 and is currently available in the online store.
The Eleanor Friedberger 7-inch is made possible through the generous support of the Brown Foundation, Inc., Houston and Ballroom Marfa members.
Special thanks to Luke Bulman, Joe Cashiola, Ross Cashiola, Lee Cohen, Cristina Garcés, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Chris Hillen, Roger Kisby, Brian LeBarton, Carlos Lujan, Marfa Recording Company, Merge Records, Colt Miller, Matt Panuska, Gory Smelley, Thumb Projects, and Lance Webb.