Asking a songwriter to name a favorite song they have written can often be like asking them to name a favorite lung. Not so in my case. While I am very proud of a lot of my songs, “How Hot Is It?” has always been my favorite. It could be because I remember its origin so clearly. My wife and I were living in Piney Flats, TN, at the time. I was up early on a Saturday morning, drinking coffee on my front porch, playing around on my guitar, and casting about for weather song ideas. Johnny Carson’s (he hosted NBC’s “The Tonight Show” for a long time) famous call-and-response with his audience — “It is so hot . . . How hot is it?” — popped into my head, and the song practically wrote itself in 20 minutes. I was so excited, I woke up my wife to play it for her.
However, the version you hear on my CD, “Do the Weather Wiggle with Stormin’ Bob Swanson,” is not what you typically hear when I play it live. The song, as originally written and as I have always played it, is just me on acoustic rhythm guitar, lead vocal (with audience response), and harmonica as an instrumental break. That’s how I originally recorded it for the CD years ago. However, after I left the studio, my friend/producer/sound engineer, Rob Chittum, knew the song needed something more. He pulled out his drum kit and added drums to the track. After it was taking shape, he called on a friend to add a bass line. All this was happening unbeknownst to me. When I came back for our next recording session, Rob played me the improved version, and I was blown away.
Well, move over Rob Chittum . . . a new generation is taking over. I’m pleased to say that this summer I’ll no longer be a one-man band. I’ll be adding my son, Nate (he plays drums in his 7th grade band), to the mix. In fact, we’ve been rehearsing “How Hot Is It?” so that he can join me at Mississippi State’s “Science Night at the Museums” event (2/18 from 4 to 7 pm).
Here’s the harmonica break part of the tune from last night’s rehearsal:
Wanna hear the whole thing? See you at MSU’s Hilbun Hall on Saturday. My shows will be at 4:30, 5:30 and 6:30.