This collection of recordings on The Dreamer (Acoustic Version) represents an alternate reality. Before Rhett Miller took to Dreamland Studios in New York's Hudson Valley with his band, The Serial Lady Killers, he recorded demos for the band to use as study aids. The songs were new, small and often sad.

I hope you enjoy these stripped down versions of his songs.

I'm sure he'll be coming to a town near you soon. And unless he's rocking it Old 97's style, he will sound a lot like he does on these recordings.


The Dreamer - (Acoustic Version)

“Lost Without You”
When Ben Kweller and I wrote this song, it was a lot darker, lyrically, than the version that ultimately appears on The Dreamer. I had a problem with singing “guess I wasn’t worth bein’ found” every night. It seemed so defeatist and hopeless. This early demo captures the sadness that I squeezed out of that final version.

“Long Long Long”
This song changed very little, but this solo acoustic version seems a lot sadder to me.

“Out Of Love”
This early arrangement finds me playing the outro chord progression (complete with the diminished chord!) between each verse. And the fingerpicked finale sounds like “Dust In The Wind.”

I wrote this song on the eve of the recording session, so there exists no proper demo outside of this iPhone recording that I made the in the dressing room at Seattle’s Triple Door. I like the intimacy of these lo-fi phone recordings so much that I sometimes fantasize about releasing an album of them. Oh, listen for the flub halfway through the solo two minutes in.

“This Summer Lie”
When I recorded this early version, the song was still called “This Summer Life.” Then I played it for my friend Chris Lehmann, a brilliant writer and big music fan, and he said, “I love the lyric “this summer lie.’” I didn’t mention that he had just improved my song immeasurably. I was afraid he’d ask for publishing royalties. Too late now, Chris!

“I’ll Try To”
I co-wrote this with the great Jude Cole. And we recorded a beautiful full-band demo of the song that day. But I wanted my band, The Serial Lady Killers, to hear it without a full arrangement already worked out. So I recorded this quiet little thing. Again, so sad.

“Marina” was another last-minute addition to the pile of songs for The Dreamer. And, again, there is no proper demo. The recording included here is from a bootleg of a show I did at Swedish American Music Hall in San Francisco the day I wrote the song. I also included the banter leading up to it because who doesn’t want to listen to me talk? Thanks to Kirk Nelson for the recording.

“Swimmin’ In Sunshine”
On The Dreamer, this song gets the largest boost from production, boasting a huge middle and outro section that features stacked vocals and cool percussion. Here, you can hear it in all its simple glory.

“As Close As I Came To Bein’ Right”
Rosanne Cash and I wrote this song by trading emails and mp3′s. When we connected to record a demo of it, it still wasn’t quite finished. So I recorded this to show the final arrangement to the band. Obviously, the whole duet element is lost. Unless you count my multiple personalty disorder.

“Love Grows”
I wrote this while sitting on my brother’s lake house’s porch at Possum Kingdom Lake in Texas. I was trying to write a song that a person might be able to sing around a campfire or in a church. Needless to say, that isn’t my normal M.O. This version captures that simple feel I was going for.

“Picture This”
This is a co-write with the great young band Spring Standards. It involves a guitar riff. Which is not my forté. But this recording certainly showcases my attempts to play it. Also, I always get a little choked up when I sing the line, “I’m tired but I’m not too tired for you.”

“Complicated Man”
This 3/4 time song is a weird one. Sounds like a guy singing in the circus band. But he’s complaining about his own shortcomings. The band nailed it on the record.

“Sweet Dreams”
The 1950′s called and they want their chord progression back. This song exemplifies what I was going for on The Dreamer. Simple and emotionally true.


  • 6/05 - Chicago, IL - City Winery - Tickets
  • 6/16 - Santa Barbara, CA - Muddy Waters - Tickets
  • 6/17 - Los Angeles, CA - Largo - Tickets
  • 6/18 - San Diego, CA - Casbah - Tickets
  • 7/25 - Wellfleet, MA - Beachcomber - Tickets
  • 7/27 - Somerville, MA - Johnny D's - Tickets
  • 7/30 - Amagansett, NY - Stephen Talkhouse - Tickets
  • 8/22 - Bug Sur, CA - Fernwood Resort - Tickets
  • 8/23 - SF, CA - The Chapel - Tickets
  • 8/25 - Los Angeles, CA - Largo - Tickets


The Dreamer (Acoustic Version)
Maximum Sunshine
AuthorSteve Muscutt