By MICHELLE SCHMIDTThirteen years after it was recorded in Orofino, Mike Corry’s album, “Codger Pole,” has finally made its debut.
Corry describes the album as an homage to the region in a style that represents it – a mix of country, bluegrass, folk and a little rock ‘n’ roll. It was recorded shortly before he and his family moved to Cannon Beach, Ore., after living 10 years in Orofino, where he owned Michael’s Music. He lived in Lewiston for 15 years before that.
“This album came out as a swan song for Idaho,” Corry says. “These are the songs I wrote when I was in the area.”
The album’s song list reads like a map of the region. From “Steptoe Butte,” whose word play explores lost love, to “It’s Out There in the Woods,” a story of a man alone in the dark woods whose imagination gets the best of him, the album represents the scenes and stories of the region that many will recognize.
“Camas Prairie Railroad” was written after watching the train carry away boxcars of lumber twice a day for 10 years. In asking – “Where did the beauty go?” – Corry brings attention to the natural beauty present and the value it has for those in the area and outside of it.
“If we take away the beauty, if we take away the human element, we have nothing,” Corry says.
Similarly, “The Old River Road,” talks about the drive up the Clearwater River on U.S. Highway 12, to the place “all the beauty goes” – where the Lochsa and Selway rivers meet to form the Clearwater.
“The Flood of ’96” tells the story of a friend and his wife in Peck who narrowly escaped death when floodwaters destroyed their home. The story celebrates those who remain strong despite the difficulties they have faced, Corry says.
The album itself is named after the Codger Pole in Colfax that commemorates a football rematch played 50 years after the first game by the same participants.
The album was recorded over one week in the summer of 2001 with his sons, Josh (then 16) and Luke (then 18). They rented a house across the street for the recording, which was overseen by Brian Olson of Lewiston. Setting up instruments and recording equipment in different rooms allowed for a live-style recording. But the album that came out wasn’t what they’d hoped.
“It just didn’t work,” Corry says. “And I know why. As an artist, I have always had something to do with the mixing, the final sound. I wasn’t on this one and the album never got to what I wanted it to sound like.”
A few heard the album, but for the most part it was chalked up to experience, a good effort that didn’t work out. But even after several years, Corry couldn’t let it rest. There were songs that were meant to be heard and he wanted to make it right, even if it was just for his sons.
A few years ago, Corry got the digital version of the tracks and re-mixed all of them except one, “It’s Out There in the Woods,” which was mixed by David Tucker of Lewiston. What resulted was an album that now feels finished, he says, something that everyone involved is proud of and that people are enjoying.
“It’s homespun, there are all these little quirks,” Corry says. “But that’s kind of what it is.”