Going For A Song: ‘Song For Willie’

Magnolia Electric Co. – Song For Willie

I recently finished reading Erin Osmon’s book Jason Molina: Riding With the Ghost. There’s a lot to recommend it: details such as Jason’s teenage bands having reassuringly teenage band names (Chronic Insanity anyone?), my hope fulfilled the book would look at the Midwest music scene (subject for Osmon’s next book maybe please?), and the excellent analysis of Jason’s music throughout.

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Going For A Song: ‘Slow Education’

Silver Jews – Slow Education

When God was young / He made the wind and the sun / And since then it’s been a slow education / And you’ve got that one idea again / The one about dying

I loved the Silver Jews. ‘Slow Education’ is the first song on the first album – Bright Flight (2001) – I ever heard of theirs. So enamoured of the band was I, I stuck a review of the album, which I had cut out of a music magazine, onto my bedroom wall like a soldier, posted overseas, would do to a photo of his sweetheart back home.

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Blow ’em away, kid

This secret knowledge you have is a strength that lives only inside certain people. It is a strength that will inspire you to do wondrous things – like write stories, or draw pictures, or build rockets that fly to Mars. It will give you the courage to take on anything that the world might put in front of you. It’s a wild power that can be of untold value to the world.  Your name, Ptolemy, is a warrior’s name. A boy full of inspiration with a warrior’s name! The world is waiting for you. Blow ‘em away, kid.

Red Hand Files Issue #26

I’ve been a subscriber to Nick Cave’s The Red Hand Files for a few months now, and the answers he’s given to the questions put to him have at turns been thoughtful, frank, honest, funny, cynical, optimistic and lyrical. The Red Hand Files, born out of Cave’s ‘small idea that people were in need of more thoughtful discourse’ separated from social media, is just simply a musician answering questions from people interested in him, his music, and the Bad Seeds, but it feels unique and yes, given the parlous state of communication between people currently, necessary. But overall The Red Hand Files stand as testament to the musician and artist that Nick Cave is.

 

Reading: Jason Molina: Riding With the Ghost, Erin Osman

Going For A Song: ‘Didn’t Know What I Was in For’

Better Oblivion Community Centre – Didn’t Know What I Was in For

Apart from the music he has put out under his own name – and contrary to the label of singer-songwriter he is frequently ascribed – Conor Oberst is primarily a collaborator. All his bands – Commander Venus, Bright Eyes, Desaparecidos, Mystic Valley Band, and Monsters of Folk – have been bands. And Oberst’s latest one is the Better Oblivion Community Centre, a collaboration with Phoebe Bridgers. I haven’t heard all of their debut record, but I’ve heard some of it and I like what I’ve heard so far.

 

 

Picking Up On Something

Elvis Presley – Baby, What You Want Me To Do

But he’s picking up on something, he’s getting interested in something. What he’s getting interested in is the rhythm in the song; and suddenly, as if no-one has ever really heard that what this song is about is a certain rhythm; has nothing to do with the words, has nothing to do with the vocal, there’s no idea in it; it is a rhythm that is asking to be made bigger, to go further, and to become a thing in itself.

– Greil Marcus

Going For A Song: ‘Elephant’

Jason Isbell – Elephant

Jason Isbell is someone who I’d heard of through his association with the Drive-By Truckers, but had never heard any music by him. Then last year I heard his song ‘Live Oak’, which led me to the album Southeastern (2013). ‘Elephant’, like ‘Live Oak’, is a good indication of Southeastern as a whole: affective, never sentimental, crafted songs, which use country music as a touchstone.