Accidental Rolling Stone: Cody Lynn Boyd Chases Ghosts

Cody Lynn BoydEXPAND
Cody Lynn Boyd
Holly Liedtke
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Singer-songwriter Cody Lynn Boyd bears a remarkable resemblance to Brian Jones. It’s not surprising if you don’t remember Jones, an original founder of the Rolling Stones, because he died in 1969. Boyd doesn’t remember him either.

Boyd isn’t English, nor is he much into drugs, but the resemblance to the late musician is so uncanny that he could jump in to play Jones if a director called for action right this minute. We all know an accidental Keith Richards, but most have never seen an accidental Jones, and how a young man in 2019 ends up hitting on the exact image of a long-gone rock star by accident shall remain unexplained, but Boyd swears that the likeness is purely coincidental. Boyd’s aesthetic — in the flesh and in his art — is informed by the absorption of so many references, that he very well may have legitimately forgotten his source of inspiration.

The all-black-wearing Boyd, whose ‘60s-coiffed blond hair hangs over his ever-present turtleneck, has made a merely utilitarian choice for a perpetual uniform, he says, because he got tired of picking out clothes.

“I did the turtleneck and the hair and slowly these words started creeping into my life, ‘Mick Jagger, Brian Jones,’” Boyd says of the comparisons, “I’m like, ‘What? No.’ I’m getting stuck in this ‘60s thing.

“Maybe I should’ve gone with a rainbow turtleneck.”

Boyd is at the Mansfield Starbucks where he’s worked for the last four years, gathering supplies for an impromptu picnic. On the way to a nearby cemetery with no name, he points to a rundown structure now attached to a trailer, formerly a bank. Legend has it that it was impervious to Bonnie and Clyde’s threats as the couple failed to rob it.

The cemetery’s graves are adorned by an unusual number of small confederate flags standing in lieu of flowers. Boyd sits on a blanket and reminisces. The graveyard used to be his hangout spot, as it made a choice setting to pull off pranks.

“We’d have someone waiting and chase them,” he remembers, “with, like, raw meat and a wig and fake blood.”

There’s one event that haunted Boyd in particular, a night in which the group of friends stopped by, as they did weekly, to feed the cemetery’s black cats.

“One night we come here and there’s a group of older women and they’re walking around in black cloaks,” he says, “and they have candles, and they were with the black cats, and they were speed walking to us, angry at us, so we ran because we were scared.

“It grows communion being scared with your friend,” Boyd explains, “like, ‘Remember when old man Jenkins chased us off the yard?’ It’s like you went through a struggle together.”

Boyd’s fourth single, the ballad “I’ll Go,” came out in December. He’s yet to release an album and is toying with the idea of releasing demos so raw that they feature the sounds of dogs barking in the background.

“That’s my documented brain,” he says.

His indie-psych rock recalls a recognizably peculiar tone — the irony of Dylan and Morrison, and, you guessed it, hints of the early Stones, particularly Jagger’s cocky swagger.

But, inadvertent Stones cosplay notwithstanding, Boyd’s story is unique. He spent his childhood in Galveston, where he’d fish on the pier to trade it for ice cream at a local store. When he was around 10, Hurricane Rita’s wrathful eye forced the family to relocate to Grapevine before eventually settling in Mansfield.

Boyd has a childlike wonder and a nostalgic attachment to vintage cartoons (which he watches nightly), Halloween and carnival culture, even though he’s never been to the circus. He collects friendships with what he calls “random types,” like the legally named Brady Brady, whom he describes as “a young Hunter S. Thompson, a really wacky guy who went on crazy psychedelic adventures.”

“It just happens,” Boyd says of keeping eclectic company. “I’m around people who are wild. It’s always been a magnet with me.”

If the Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” was a love letter, Boyd’s local TV solo performance with “I Play the Game” was a staff memo to a harem of lady stimulants, as he sang out the names: “Whiskey, Cocaine, Maryjane.” But the song was about a friend’s drug-addict uncle, as he doesn’t partake much.

“I’m more of the observer,” Boyd says.

Jones, the Anita Pallenberg-beater, 27 Club member, drowned after overdosing in the pool of his English home, the property that inspired Winnie the Pooh creator A.A. Milne. Based on his tastes, one can hardly imagine Boyd overdosing in more than a Scooby-Doo marathon; the Winnie the Pooh part is more his speed.

He grew up with a fondness for musicals like Grease and Pete’s Dragon. Mary Poppins’ “Chim Chim Cher-ee” is still his favorite song. His reading material consists of Garfield picture books and comic books.

“I think I’m just going for being myself,” Boyd says of his style. “Maybe in the beginning I thought, ‘Oh, I gotta be cool,’ then I’m like, I like cartoons, I like spooky stuff, I don’t have to brainstorm what to do.”

While Boyd chases the paranormal, he’s afraid of routine death and has a phobia of driving.

“I’ll go to a cemetery at three in the morning or ghost hunting with my friends,” he says, “but I’m scared of driving.”

He has a common millennial affliction, an aversion to what’s frequently and obnoxiously referred to as ‘adulting.’

“Paying taxes, driving, that scares me,” he says. “How do I renew my ID? I feel like my brain stopped at 10.”

Boyd’s never had a driver's license, nor insurance, even when he was living in his van for a year as a teenager. He used a “Honk if you love Jesus” bumper sticker to keep the cops at bay and switched his nightly resting place between Walmart, Kroger and Tom Thumb parking lots to avoid attention.

Boyd dropped out in his junior year of high school and got a Christian-based GED.

“They stripped the science section,” he says of the test, “and replaced it with a religion section, which is perfect because I was studying the Bible at the time.”

Boyd says that for a year he went to small-town Bible studies in the middle of the night.

“These people were very on fire for Christ,” he says, “and that’s what ‘Play with Fire’ is about, me embodying how those people think.

“It was so powerful,” he says of his experience with religion, “people crying out their sins and their vices. I didn’t know if I believed it or not, but I felt it for sure.”

Boyd’s not immediately concerned with conquering his fear of driving. For this reason, he rarely ventures out of Fort Worth for gigs, but he manages to go on a variety of road trips with friends.

For the last 10 years, Boyd has documented his existence with a digital camera with a commitment to self-documentation more fervent than the Kardashians.

“I call them Boyd’s home movies,” he says, “I feel like if it’s not documented, I never experienced it.”

The footage includes “trips, blowing up pumpkins, me going to Canada without a passport — I almost got stuck there.

“I want to have stuff to show my kids if I have any,” Boyd says. “I would love to see footage of my parents just bullshitting in their 20s.”

As a teen, one of Boyd’s friends gave him a guitar as a gift, “and I started writing terrible songs,” Boyd says. He started playing music in public only two years ago. He was performing the song “Play with Fire” (which he’d barely finished writing backstage) at an open mic when he met sound engineer Josh Ryan Jones, who ended up producing the song, and Boyd’s subsequent singles, along with Taylor Tatsch at a studio just west of Austin.

Tatsch, who produces artists such as Garrett Owen, was impressed by Boyd’s “finger-style guitar chops” and his commitment.

“He’s very theatrical,” Tatsch says. “You should see him in the studio. He’s gesturing and moving like he’s onstage.

“It’s not enough that he gets the notes,” Tatsch continues, “the whole performance has to be emoted.”

While video is Boyd’s preferred form of journaling, he’s also used his home movies for his DIY music videos. He made his first music video in his bedroom with a flashlight and a tripod. For the second one, “I’m Gonna Give You Anything,” he borrowed an 8mm camera and had himself filmed depicting a clown.

Boyd’s inability to remember lyrics that he hasn’t written keeps him from covering other artists’ songs. The attention that his originality has garnered with critics hardly registers with him.

“I don’t know,” he says of the buzz, “maybe it was made up.”

For all his ghost hunting, Boyd hasn’t considered his plan of action if he manages to make contact with the beyond.

“It depends on the situation,” he says. “If I saw a ghost at Walmart, I might talk to it, but if I were in the woods by myself I don’t know; I ran from the old ladies with cloaks.”

He doesn’t find his tastes to be exceptional.

“I like entertaining people through my music and jokes,” he says. And concludes by wondering out loud: “I don’t know if I’m that unusual. Am I?”

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