© 2023 WGLT
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Chris Corkery's New Album A Deep Dive Into Honky-Tonk

Chris Corkery's CD release party is Saturday night at Keg Grove Brewing Company
Chris Corkery
Chris Corkery's CD release party is Saturday night at Keg Grove Brewing Company.

Alcohol and anger fuel many of the original songs on the just released "The Gill Street Sessions" live album from Saybrook singer-songwriter Chris Corkery.

Sometimes I drink and I smoke a little more than I should Sometimes I stay up too late when I’m up to no good You can judge me all that you want And I don’t give a damn Well take me or leave me, I am what I am “I Am What I Am” by Chris Corkery

“Some of these (original) songs come from when I did the honky-tonk tour circuit, which is like the hard-country/outlaw country tour,” said Corkery of his debut album on Central Illinois-based Otarikai Records.

It was recorded outdoors this summer at Gill Street Bar & Restaurant in Bloomington.

“So, I wrote this batch of songs centered around that dynamic with the hard drinking, outdoor troubadour thing, you know. A heavier, hardscrabble living kind of thing.” 

Well I drank beer in Oklahoma Wine in Kansas City Been kicked out of every bar In ole’ St. Lou Sold whiskey in Kentucky Slugged gin in Baton Rouge But I just can’t drink my mind Off of losing you “Just Can’t Drink My Mind” by Chris Corkery

“At times I was listening to George Jones and Johnny Paycheck,” said Corkery about this batch of songs he performed solo acoustic. “Doing that (honky-tonk) tour was pretty hard. It was a grind and you’ve got to be able to play the real salt-of-earth country stuff.”

He’s drawn to this gritty reality for the under the hood look at often forgotten mostly rural people.

“Deeper than just, ‘Hey I’m going to go and drink my mind off whatever problem you have.’ It’s like, ‘This is what’s going to happen if you end up doing this, this is what it’s going to look like.’ All those songs kind of show a reality of sometimes people hit the bottle and complain about their woman, or whatever,” said Corkery.

You used me and left me (she sure did) But thank God I’m alone Cause every day is like Christmas Now that you’re gone “Cold Hearted Bitch” by Chris Corkery

Corkery said he’s often inspired to write songs about these mostly rural, often forgotten people while driving the back roads of McLean County.

“There’s something about being able to drive toward the horizon, and now especially is a beautiful time of year,” said Corkery.

As for driving those often dirt roads, he has a preference for the look of the corn passing by.

“Oh man,” he pondered. “There’s something about the corn being high that I do love. There’s just something when it’s full-on summer, when the corn is green and sky is almost like a razor-sharp blue … and there’s not a cloud in the sky and the sun is hazy and going down a little bit.”

It would be easy to imagine that scene he paints to be the inspiration for one of the tender songs on “The Gill Street Sessions.” It was written about his girlfriend Carie.

I went uptown as she was sleeping Get your coffee for the day And I know work will be a long one But you’ll make it through OK I just want to see you smile Cause you know I’d do Anything For You “Anything For You” by Chris Corkery

"She works at the post office, and it was peak time so she was going to be working something like 12 to 13 days in a row,” said Corkery. “So, I go up to Casey’s to get her coffee and tell her everything’s going to be OK and give her a little pep talk. I was just appreciating so much of what she does for me not just as a person, but musically. She does so much. She runs my social media.”

She even had input into the song written about her.

“I just couldn’t figure this song out. She would say, ‘This is good but maybe it needs something,’” said Corkery.

It was constructive criticism that paid off.

“So, I went back and reworked the chords and the chorus and it turned into this really sweet love song and is one of my favorites on the album.

Chris Corkery plays songs from “The Gill Street Sessions” at an album release party Saturday night at Keg Grove Brewery in Bloomington.

The entire WGLT interview with Chris Corkery.

People like you value experienced, knowledgeable and award-winning journalism that covers meaningful stories in Bloomington-Normal. To support more stories and interviews like this one, please consider making a contribution.

Jon Norton is the program director at WGLT and WCBU. He also is host of All Things Considered every weekday.