How to Grow a Woman from the Ground

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How to Grow a Woman from the Ground
Studio album by Chris Thile
Released September 12, 2006
Genre Bluegrass music
Length
Label Sugar Hill Records
Producer Chris Thile
Chris Thile albums
Deceiver
(2004)
How to Grow a Woman from the Ground
(2006)
Punch
(2008)

How to Grow a Woman from the Ground is a 2006 album by Chris Thile, who made the album with the How to Grow a Band, credited to Chris Thile. It was released on September 12, 2006. The album is named after a song on the album; a cover of a song by American singer Tom Brosseau.

The album got mostly good reviews from important music critics, with some critics saying that the album was “fantastic, eclectic”,[1] and “genius”.[2] The album got Thile a Grammy Award-nomination in 2007.

Early planning and creation[change | edit source]

For a side project away from his band Nickel Creek, Chris Thile knew he wanted to form a five-piece string band that featured mandolin, violin, banjo, acoustic guitar, and double bass. Thile also wanted the band to feature his friend and fiddle player Gabe Witcher,[3] but didn’t know what kind of band he wanted it to be. At the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado, Thile met banjo player Noam Pikelny and later said that “every note he played was something I wish I’d played”. At that time, Thile decided that he wanted “put [his] stamp” on the normal bluegrass band.[4] Thile wanted to find five people to make the five-piece band he planned. He had already found fiddle, banjo, and mandolin players, so he just had to find double bass and acoustic guitar players. The bass player Thile was looking for turned out to be Greg Garrison, a friend of Noam Pikelny. Before this, Pikelny had played with Garrison in the band Leftover Salmon. The guitar player Thile needed became Chris Eldridge, famous as a member of the Infamous Stringdusters. The five people met up in Nashville on one day in 2005 and decided to “do something musical together”. A few days later, the group met again “to drop a ton of money, drink too much wine, eat steaks, and [talk] about our failed relationships”.[3] That night, they formed a bluegrass band.

A few months later, the group decided to record an album. The album was recorded in two days at Sear Sound Recording Studios in New York City. The album was not made digitally, but in the old-fashioned way: on tape. In an interview with the United States magazine Guitar Player, Chris Thile talked about how How to Grow a Woman from the Ground was recorded:

It was recorded at Sear Sound in New York using two vintage Telefunken ELA M 251 E mics into a Forsell Technologies FetCode preamp. Most of it was recorded onto the same Studer 1" two-track that was used to mix Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band! Everything was tracked live, and I’ve decided never to record wearing headphones again unless I absolutely have to. Wearing headphones is bullsh*t, because you’re in your own little world playing to a mix that no one will ever hear but you. What’s the point?[5]

How to Grow a Woman from the Ground was produced by Thile, and the only musicians on the album was the band that Thile chose. The band was later named the "How to Grow a Band".[6]

Musical style[change | edit source]

How to Grow a Woman from the Ground takes influence from several musical genres, “drawing equally from traditional bluegrass, progressive acoustic, and singer-songwriter traditions”.[1] One music critic called the album “roots oriented”.[7] Bluegrass mandolin player Ronnie McCoury became the album’s official “bluegrass guru” to make sure that there was “someone who could make sure we didn’t do anything clichéd or trite”.[8] When discussing the album’s musical style, Chris Thile said that “All in all, How to Grow a Woman from the Ground is a bluegrass record. There are definitely some musical things that are out of the ordinary, but it sounds like a bluegrass record to me.”[8] Much of Thile's work on the album was inspired by his divorce, and Thile said that he could relate to the title of the album, a Tom Brosseau song. Thile said that he "got my ass kicked by the last relationship I was in. This girl just left. It created a pretty serious complex for me. I’ve always been able to talk to girls, but I’m scared of them. I just could relate to it. Like, man if I could just grow one, that would take care of a lot of problems." [9]

Track listing[change | edit source]

# Title Songwriters Length
1 "Watch 'at Breakdown" Chris Thile 4:14
2 "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" The White Stripes 4:15
3 "Stay Away" Thile 3:56
4 "O Santo de Polvora" Milladoiro 2:37
5 "Wayside (Back in Time)" Gillian Welch, David Rawlings 2:45
6 "You're an Angel, and I'm Gonna Cry" Thile 2:57
7 "How to Grow a Woman from the Ground" Tom Brosseau 5:08
8 "The Beekeeper" Thile 4:06
9 "Brakeman's Blues" Jimmie Rodgers 3:42
10 "If the Sea Was Whiskey" Willie Dixon 2:43
11 "Cazadero" Paul Shelasky 3:34
12 "Heart in a Cage" Julian Casablancas 4:23
13 "I'm Yours if You Want Me" Thile 3:49
14 "The Eleventh Reel" Thile 3:28

Personnel[change | edit source]

  • Chris Thile - mandolin, lead vocals, producer
  • Noam Pikelny - banjo, vocals
  • Greg Garrison - bass, vocals
  • Chris Eldridge - acoustic guitar, vocals
  • Gabe Witcher - fiddle, vocals
  • Ronnie McCoury - "bluegrass guru"
  • Loren Witcher - artwork
  • Gary Paczosa - mastering
  • Fred Forsell - mastering engineer
  • Matthew Gephart - engineer
  • Ethan Donaldson - assistant engineer

Charts[change | edit source]

Chart Provider(s) Peak
position
Top Heatseekers (U.S.)[10] Billboard 28
Billboard Top Country Albums (U.S.)[10] 46
Billboard Top Internet Albums (U.S.)[10] 289
Billboard Top Independent Albums (U.S.)[10] 27
Billboard Top Bluegrass Albums (U.S.)[11] 2

Notes[change | edit source]

References[change | edit source]

  • How to Grow a Woman from the Ground liner notes

Other websites[change | edit source]