Portrait of a Musical Duo: Cole & Younger

Cole and Younger by Skitsskat via ArtCorgi

Skitsskat recently released a realistic commission style that was put to excellent use by a musical duo known as Cole & Younger. Farnell Cole and Dave Younger live in far-flung locations in the United States and came to us for a portrait as they had no photos of the two of them together that they could use in promotional materials and send around to producers.

We love how their portrait came out and had a blast learning more about the duo in the process. You can learn more about their work and background in the Q&A below.

To commission a realistic portrait from Skitsskat, stop by her commission page.

Q&A with Cole & Younger

ArtCorgi (AC): How did Cole & Younger come into being?

Farnell Cole (FC): This is documentable to the exact date that Dave first contacted me about writing songs together, he said “I like the cut of your Jib, we should try to write one” and we did. I can no longer locate that exact historical day and time due to MySpace throwing everything out and starting over, but what we can attest to is that our very first co-written song, “Empty Bottles” was registered with Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) as a finished song on 07/07/2009. And there have been many more since than and we hope there are plenty more to come.

AC: What inspired you to commission your piece?

FC: Since we live so far apart (Dave in California and Farnell in Florida) we have never met in person, writing all of our songs to date via digital media and internet connection. Living on opposite coasts obviously makes taking a photograph together impossible. We had considered having someone just Photoshop something for us to use in our promotions, but when we came across ArtCorgi on the internet we knew we would do far better served using your services, and that we would end up with a very unique, “one of a kind” image of Cole & Younger.

AC: What would you say are the major influences and driving forces behind your music?

Dave Younger (DY): That’s a hard one….there are so many. We both love a good story and we both love music with roots. We are passionate about getting it right and telling the truth. Really, we write organically… it’s hard to separate out the motivation and the modus operandi from the finished songs.

One of us gets an idea… he starts bugging the other one… there’s a flurry of words, most of them bad… we chisel away at the granite and the sculpture gets a face somehow… Dave sings to it… it continues to take shape… sometimes we throw up our hands and walk away from it awhile… Dave changes the melody a dozen times…. Farnell starts to think he picked a bad time to quit drinking…..one or two key words trigger an avalanche of creativity… Golden Angels dance through sapphire skies…. and all the hours spent with hammer and chisel reward us with a song. Remember that the stone that the builders reject might become the corner stone of a new temple…. Our roots are ROOTS.

We are less interested in writing hits than we are in just trying to write the best song we can while always keeping our boots on the terra-firma of traditional music. In our Nashville recordings (in progress, 9/2/14) we are intentionally including traditional instruments, recognizable story lines, and a sensitivity to where this music originates. We’re grateful to Lonnie Ratliff and Vaughn Lofstead for their visionary production work on our songs, and we can’t wait to share our work with the world.

AC: We love that you and Dave are able to create awesome music together despite living so far apart- it reminds us of our own model (connecting widely disparate artists and clients). What tips would you give to long distance bands on making it work?

DY: Laugh. A LOT. Sure this is business, but there HAS to be respect for one another, there has to be a commonality of interest and values. You’ve got to know when something good is growing but you have to be able to recognize and be ruthless about eradicating weeds.

It helps to have tools like Masterwriter (A program designed specifically for songwriters) where you can archive every cockamamie song or line or melody idea for later access. It also helps to have some kind of home recording set-up to do rough demos of finished or nearly finished work. Our song “Superman in Overalls” came from a rejected idea we’d labored over for two years, and that we had finally archived when it hit an insurmountable dead-end. In its original form it really was just about overalls, but when we picked it up again it evolved into a song about the relationship of good men to their families and to posterity. To date, we’ve completed about 3 dozen songs (and demos) and are in the process of getting the best of them recorded at The Smokehouse Studios in Nashville. That brings up another suggestion; NETWORK!!!

But an addendum to that must be “Write some great songs and THEN network”. Do NOT waste the time of people who are trying to swim up this raging creativity river by expecting them to fix your incomplete, ill-conceived 6 minute ramble (set to a borrowed melody). If you send somebody garbage, they will not accept future submissions, but if you send well-crafted songs right out of the gate, even your rejections will lead somewhere positive.

I would tell anyone wanting to write as we do to check your ego at the door…and when you enter that door leave all thoughts of profit or fame outside. The song is the thing, the whole thing, and there is no room for any other consideration once you start writing seriously. The Muse is intolerant of ulterior motives and no creative work can happen without her blessing.


Farnell Cole and Dave Younger Photos


About Cole & Younger

As unlikely as it might sound, these two old boys met and have done all their writing on line and have never met face-to-face (as of 09/02/13). Still, Farnell describes Dave as being a close friend, a great songwriter, and a very talented singer/guitar picker. Dave calls Farnell “Bubba”. Well, there’s more to that, Dave calls Farnell an inspiration as well as a wonderful storyteller (and close friend.This mutual admiration society is constantly at work improving their songwriting craft and cementing their friendship. Come on in and pull up a chair… Farnell is saying something about ‘gators and snakes and Dave just reached for that beat up old guitar again….

Dave Younger

I grew up in the South Santa Clara Valley of California back when farms and trees were the dominant part of that landscape. My home town was a lot like Mayberry. Everybody knew everybody and the kids played outside until supper time when our Moms would call us in. Everybody went to church on Sundays, my Dad and all my friends’ Dads were in the War and they were all heroes to me

Farnell Cole

I’m a 5th generation “Florida Cracker” from a railroad town called High Springs. As a child I worked on local ranches and farms for my spending money. In my spare time, when not involved in sports, I hunted and fished the piney woods and river swamps of a natural paradise. This is where I learned that living a simple life in a small, southern, town, surrounded by a loving and caring family is what makes life worth living.