The Tumbleweed Murders—and Jewell Scoggins—sprang from Rebecca Rothenberg's lifelong love of music. Becky's interest in "country" music dated at least to the early 1970s, when she arrived in Nashville fresh out of Swarthmore. Becky was herself a talented songwriter and singer, and she performed and recorded music for many years. Her exploration of California "natives" transcended botany, as she came to love the people and the music of Kern County, her second home. Bakersfield's contribution to American music includes luminaries such as Buck Owens and Rose Maddox, who was in part inspiration for Jewell's character. Rose Maddox died on April 15, 1998—one day after Becky's death.

All song lyrics in The Tumbleweed Murders are Becky's. With a little help from her friends—Terry Fain in particular—her recordings of these songs have been remastered and gathered together on the CD Songs from the Tumbleweed Murders. To hear these songs, click on the links below. Lyrics for these and other songs (all part of the Time Like A River CD) are also included below. For copies of either CD, send $5 per CD to cover the cost of duplication and shipping to: Terry Fain, 1700 Main Street, Santa Monica CA 90407.


Time Like a River includes all the Tumbleweed songs and more.





More lyrics

Terry Fain on Becky Rothenberg's Music

I met Becky Rothenberg in Nashville in the summer of 1971. She had just finished her undergraduate degree at Swarthmore, and was in town to visit a college pal named Paul Dimaggio. Paul was doing a summer internship in the sociology department at Vanderbilt University, where I was a graduate student. At the time Paul was writing these really hilarious, crazy country songs with titles like "Up Against the Floor" and "I Thought You Were a Country Dumpling, but You're Just a Pop-up Tart." (Paul is now chairman of sociology at Princeton, and still occasionally produces musical compositions that can only be described as incomparable.) I had already written a few songs that had been published, and Paul kept telling me about the great songs his friend Becky had written. So when she turned up in town, he introduced us as fellow songwriters.

A couple of days later, Becky nervously allowed herself to be persuaded to play a couple of songs at a friend's house-and I immediately fell in love with the songs, the piano parts, and her voice. I introduced Becky to the publishing company I was working with, and they were also very favorably impressed. Thus began a musical and personal relationship that would span seven years and two major U.S. music centers.

Nashville in 1971 was undergoing a musical identity crisis. Country music was still the backbone of the local scene, of course, but there was a widespread belief that the town was on the verge of busting wide open to all kinds of music. Bob Dylan and Neil Young had recorded hit albums in local studios. North Nashville had several killer R&B and blues clubs. There was a coffeehouse scene for folkies, where one Sunday night I heard Kris Kristofferson play the song he had just written, "Me and Bobby McGee," to an audience of about twelve. And there were several really good local rock bands-I had played in a couple of them. The Summer of Love had found its way to Nashville around 1968, but the feeling of creativity and experimentation and freedom still hung in the air like smoke from recently-exploded fireworks.


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