little head


1997, july 1, Capitol

CD. 8 54672 2

CAS. 8 54672 4

1 Little head 3:45 30 seconds preview
2 Pirate radio 4:27 30 seconds preview
3 My sweet girl 4:04 30 seconds preview
4 Feelin again 3:45 30 seconds preview
5 Graduated 4:38 30 seconds preview
6 Sure Pinocchio 4:16 30 seconds preview
7 Runaway 5:53 30 seconds preview
8 Woman sawed in half 4:31 30 seconds preview
9 Far as we go 4:15 30 seconds preview
10 After all this time 3:24 30 seconds preview
  (bonus track on japanese release)    
11 the trouble with blood 3:57 30 seconds preview

Total running time:



John Hiatt:





the nashville queens

David Immerglück:


Pedal steel



Background Vocals

Davey Faragher:


Background Vocals

Gary Ferguson:


Background Vocals

additional musicians
Michael Urbano: Drums (5, 7)
Peter Holsapple:



Background Vocals

Efrain Toro:


Background Vocals

Tower of power: Horns
Bill Churchville: 



Barry Danielian:



Stephen Kupka: Baritone Sax
John Scarpulla:

Tenor & Alt Sax


Emilio Castillo: Tenor Sax
Benmont Tench: organ
Kevin Buck: Cello
Jon Brion:



Matt Ferguson: Background Vocals
Billy Valentine: Background Vocals
Jeff Scornavacca: Background Vocals
Bob Joyce: Background Vocals
Jim Gilstrap: Background Vocals
Jean McClain: Background Vocals
Laura Creamer: Background Vocals



Davey Faragher

John Hiatt

Engineered andmixed: David Lohr
Assistant engineerd:

Tom Winsow

David Nottinhham

Okhee Kimm

Horn arrangements:

Steve Bartek

Davey Faragher

Guitar technician: Matt Furguson
Mastered: Robert Vosgien
Project coördination:

Maggi Sikkens

Bridget Nolan

Jeff Scornavacca


the metropolitan entertainment group

Mastered: Eddie Schreyer

rob prinz

creative artist agency

business management:

larry cherry

money management

art direction: steele & fey
photography: Neal preston
design: jeffrey fey


thanks to
larry fishman, larry dalton & joe barbieri at fishman transducers. greg romano at d'addario strings. t.j. baden at taylor guitars. ken hensly, mary ann yaeger & sean brown at ampeg. fletcher at mercenary audio. john foss & scott thompson at rockIt cargo. scott at naschville cartage. capitol thanks: gary gersh


  • All songs written by John Hiatt except "Sure Pinocchio" written by John Hiatt and Davey Faragher.

  • Recorded and Mixed at The Village Recorder, LA, CA

  • Additional Recording: Chapman Studios, Kansas City, MO & Sunset SOund Factory, LA, CA

  • Mastered at CMS Digital, Pasadena, CA

press photo




capitol biography

Time comes now for LITTLE HEAD -- Hiatt's 14th album -- only now the times have changed. Following his widely hailed 1995 Capitol label debut disc "Walk On" (a year-end Top 10 for many critics who lauded it as his best since his 1987 landmark "Bring The Family"), the Indiana native and Tennessee resident is not only being rightly acknowledged as a top recording artist in his own right, but thanks to an in-concert manner that is as marvelously comical as it is riveting, one of rock's most striking stage performers as well.

Interviewers know, too, that Hiatt is also about as fun a guy to talk music with as exists in any music genre. The easygoing, good-natured sense of Midwest wit and humor that is so much a part of his performing persona carries over into casual conversation -- which is about as formal as he gets when talking about his music. He was overcoming a cold when he sat down to talk about LITTLE HEAD the morning after premiering five of its choice cuts on VH-1's "Hard Rock Live," but he showed no discomfort at either engagement. Rather, evidenced the enthusiasm appropriate both for his new album and the self-realization that he has in fact transcended his "songwriter's songwriter" cult status.

"I've always felt very fortunate for having so many covers," acknowledged Hiatt, whose vast list of writing credits also include, for illustrative purposes, covers from the varied likes of Bob Dylan, Paula Abdul, Dave Edmunds, Emmylou Harris, Don Dixon, Rodney Crowell, Iggy Pop, Willie Nelson, John Doe, Mitch Ryder, Ronnie Milsap, and Asleep At The Wheel. "But the kind of writer I am, I don't really write for other people but pretty much for myself. Songwriting's not a craft for me, not my 'trade,' so to speak, and in that respect I don't consider myself a professional songwriter."

Yet Hiatt agrees that he has now, 13 albums after his 1974 debut "Hangin' Around The Observatory," developed into a performer on a par with his songwriting. "Yes, I feel that the 'recorded me' and the 'performing me' have integrated somehow," he continued, "and LITTLE HEAD is the first complete example of that. You can tell by listening to the vocals: Sometimes when I've overdubbed the vocals and punched in this or that, I've felt that the vocals weren't really part of the song. But I feel like the vocals here are almost another instrument that's playing along with the other cats. That's because this record is live! All the vocals are live -- and sung with the band."

And what a band it is! The Nashville Queens, as they are called, stay in the tradition of prized Hiatt bands with nutty names like the Guilty Dogs (circa 1993's "Perfectly Good Guitar" album), or the great, immediately preceding Goners, which showcased the ace Louisiana guitarist Sonny Landreth.

"They were fabulous! They had the essence of a regional sound -- white Louisiana rock guys of a certain age, and everything they did was filtered through that perspective."

The Guilty Dogs were a younger backup and featured guitarist Michael Ward, now with The Wallflowers. "They really flavored my music, and I was inspired by what was going on," recalled Hiatt of the "Perfectly Good Guitar" days. "It was a good time for rock, and I got really wound up!"

That album, and the "Little Village" one-shot super group set starring Hiatt, Nick Lowe, Ry Cooder, and Jim Keltner, followed three late '80s solo albums: "Bring the Family," "Slow Turning," and "Stolen Moments." "I look back at 'Stolen Moments' as my 'studio record,'" he notes with an amused chuckle, "playing with different players -- that kind of approach. But I got it out of my system and was hungry for a rock combo again -- and Little Village was as wacked-out a rock combo as I've ever been a part of! But it got me back to my natural element: working with a good garage band, basically, with a lot of cool ideas. A primitive, ass-backward kind of approach that wasn't terribly educated in terms of style. Definitely not Dutch Masters, more like 'outsider' art!"
Hence the Nashville Queens: Hiatt, guitar and piano; David Immergluck, guitar, pedal steel, dobro and electric sitar; Davey Faragher, bass; Gary Ferguson, drums; Peter Holsapple, organ and piano; and Efrain Toro, percussion. "We wanted percussion on the record, not as an overdubbed afterthought -- which is how it often sounds -- but as an integral part of the groove, to make it a little more snakey," Hiatt explained, rather, well, snakily. Faragher, who's been with Hiatt since the Guilty Dogs, co-produced LITTLE HEAD with Hiatt -- a first for Hiatt.

"We got all the rope we wanted from Capitol!," he joked. "We used our road engineer David Lohr -- who's mixed for us on the road for two years -- so there were no strangers. And we worked fast: I was into this guerrilla recording thing, so that if we had a day off from the road, we'd get the crew together and find a studio we liked or send for a sound truck, because when you're out on the road, you're living, eating and breathing music.

"But the main thing was to make an album that didn't have any sonic agenda or predetermined attitude, like the 'sound of the day.' We just wanted a clear sonic palette that would allow the songs and performances to emerge: Dave's brilliant at mixing on the fly live, and gets a clear sound that gets the music across clearly so that it's really well served -- without any attitude. He brought a cleaner slate to the project, and understood that sonic quality was not the end or ultimate result -- which was the music!"

Possessing the "best ears" of any producer Hiatt ever worked with, Faragher proved the perfect sounding board for Hiatt's compositions. "I can't think of anything more boring than my own arranging ideas! The fun is getting others together and seeing what they think about playing the songs."

As for the particular songs on LITTLE HEAD, Hiatt noted that he didn't want them to be as "serious" as the preceding "Walk On." "I wanted to brighten this one up and have fun." he said, adding that the new songs were all written on the road, "which seems to be the place I do most of my writing now. It's the product of my kids growing up and my home life being more and more hectic -- like a gigantic V-8 engine running right to the red line. So a hotel room in Des Moines offers the perfect writing environment of solitude and a bit of estrangement and dislocation. It's a good time to put your antennae up and see what your receiver can get." Musically, Hiatt feels that the album as a whole serves up a "nice balance of rockers and sweet love songs. 'My Sweet Girl' has a really sweet sexiness to it that is seductive even to me, the singer. 'Woman Sawed In Half' is a hoot, inspired by Maureen McGovern's 'Torn Between Two Lovers.' 'Little Head' is basically a 12-bar blues, except that the music matches the humor in the lyric."

Sure enough, "the silly guitar line" in the anatomically salacious title track "sounds like a woman scorning her man at every turn," as Hiatt stated. Immergluck's licks, he added, seem to snarl "Always thinking with your dick, aren't you?" -- fair play for a man who admits to being "dirty as a manhole cover...looking for my long-lost lover."

But LITTLE HEAD the album is full of such typically delightful Hiatt-isms: In "Feelin' Again," he talks about "all those nights just killed a billion brain cells," after which "morning comes like a Catholic guilt." "Sure Pinocchio," which is right out of Stax thanks to the Tower of Power guest horns, has another in a long line of classic Hiatt rhymes in "You put me in a box, like God and his uncle/Smellin' like old gym socks, lookin' like Artie Garfunkel."

"Graduated," which concerns a guy who realizes forlornly that he and his girl have "graduated" out of their youthful passion, has a second life outside the song. Hiatt, it turns out, never finished high school; his wife is now going to night school to study veterinary science -- and is in turn challenging him to get his GED. " 'My Sweet Girl' is all about her," he said. "But really, all the songs are!"

All in all, the breadth of material on LITTLE HEAD buttresses its writer's description of himself as "the Sybil of rock 'n roll." Meanwhile, the multi-faceted writer-artist has recently generated two more covers: "Through Your Hands," which was previously covered by David Crosby and Joan Baez, has now been reprised by Don Henley on the "Michael" movie soundtrack, while "Have a Little Faith In Me," once covered by Jo-El Sonnier and Joe Cocker, provided new fodder for Jewel on another John Travolta-starring film soundtrack, "Phenomenon."

But a bigger honor came this year when Hiatt, the Nashville Music Award winner for artist songwriter of the year, was twice nominated for a Grammy for "Cry Love" (for best male rock vocal and best rock song) his big first single from "Walk On." "That's something I never could say before!" he told his "Hard Rock Live" audience, then promptly stumbled over the word "Grammy!" Then again, the esteemed John Hiatt is the kind of artist who reverently covers the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated" and counts amongst his proudest moments his landmark appearance on "Hee Haw."

"I'm just a guy from the Midwest who feels like Dobie Gray singing "I'm in with the "in" crowd,' " Hiatt later said of his Grammy nominations. "It just kind of feels cool, like if I won one of those little 25-lap 'Legends' races!" Yes, Hiatt drives a 5/8-sized classic race car, and has set up shop at his 1910 farmhouse situated 30 miles outside Nashville. His car's number, incidentally, is 61, for the highway intersecting Highway 49, the fabled "crossroads" where Robert Johnson is said to have sold his soul to the devil. His racing motto? "Hell Hounds On My Trail," after the Johnson blues classic.

"I grew up in Indianapolis, where my heroes were Dylan, Hendrix, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and racers like A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, and Tony Bettenhausen," said Hiatt. "They were every bit the gods."

Of course, Hiatt himself, to his peers and fans, long ago entered the music side of his pantheon, and his new album further certifies his position as one of the most important artists of his generation. In this regard, one other song merits mention: "Pirate Radio," is a heartfelt anthem to the good old rock 'n roll of Hiatt's youth, a vital style of rock which these days seems hard to find. On LITTLE HEAD, however, classic rock 'n roll, thanks to John Hiatt, has suddenly been rediscovered.

By attempting to loosen up on Little Head, John Hiatt only accentuates his songwriting slump. Hiatt tentatively backs away from pure Americana, trying to make the rhythms looser and the lyrics funnier. It's supposed to be a lighthearted record, but the humor is so labored and the music so forced that it largely falls flat. But the real problem is Hiatt's shockingly listless songwriting. Although he's recycled past ideas on Perfectly Good Guitar and Walk On, his craftsmanship made those two efforts at least marginally entertaining. On Little Head, his skill has abandoned him — there's no spark to the music, no bite to the lyrics, no hooks in the melodies. "Pirate Radio" comes close to rocking, and "Graduated" is an affecting ballad, yet they pale next to the finest moments not only on Bring the Family and Slow Turning, but also Walk On. Which means it's arguably his weakest album to date.