Hello, I’m Dane Joneshill.
I think ideally someone else is supposed to write your bio for you. Preferably someone who recognizes your innate brilliance and just can’t wait to tell the world about all your big achievements. I’m hoping to meet that person soon. Until then I’ll do my best.
Thus far the big achievements in my life are a 17-year marriage to a stunning and good-hearted woman, and the 5 wild, beautiful kids we made. We’ve lived a pretty quiet life in the middle of nowhere in the middle of Arkansas. Most of these years have been spent doing normal stuff- going to work and making sandwiches and changing diapers and trying to keep these small people alive and reasonably well adjusted. Overall, it’s a happy life.
Along the way, I’ve been writing a lot of songs and singing them here and there. While I don’t know about any innate brilliance, I have learned a few things about watching and listening, and the more I’ve paid attention the more I’ve realized the value of all the little stories unfolding around me.
I grew up in rural Alaska, in a house on the edge of the sea, backed up against the coastal mountains. Cold, remote, lonely, stark and lovely- a landscape that settles into your bones. The long winters kept our options for activity limited, so in my house, it was lots of reading. I fell in love with stories. Not books in and of themselves or even specific stories, but the very idea of story itself. Slowly, I began to wonder whether plots and characters, foreshadowing, tension, conflict, and resolution weren’t just literary devices-perhaps they were real life. The idea seemed to suggest that everyone was inhabiting a story of their own. It’s a romantic and grandiose notion when you’re young- to believe that you are a character (the main character, of course) whose dialogue matters, whose decisions affect the supporting cast, and whose destiny will eventually be made clear. Time and experience will disabuse you of those notions.
Or perhaps they just filter those notions, sift them like wheat.
Reduce those ideas to their essence and I think they remain standing.
We are surrounded by characters of such richness and complexity that if we were interested enough, we could listen to them talk for hours, days. And if we did we would realize how deeply their dialogue mattered and how much it revealed. We would hear a thousand different ways their decisions had affected people they loved and hated for better or worse. With enough time I wonder if we would believe in a good destiny for them- or at least hope for one.
I’ve made an album and I’d like for you to listen to it. It’s really just a collection of stories about people. Ordinary people- you, me, and everyone else, I guess. It’s about the lives we live and the deaths we die and the beauty and brokenness in between. There’s a fair bit of sadness in this record; cancer, compromise, divorce, addiction- even the happy stuff is bittersweet at best.
Sometimes I want to apologize for that, but I don’t think I will.
There’s a lot of value in art that celebrates happiness, good times, success- I’m just not very interested in it right now. What I am interested in are people who continue to hold on despite the pain of their circumstances. The victory chants of the winners do not compel me, but the whispered prayers of the losers sure do. I need them. I need them because I need to believe that when it gets real dark I might have the strength to do good, love well, and hold on. These stories have helped.
It’s not always a happy album, but I think it’s lovely and I know it’s honest and I believe in the end it’s hopeful.