Daily Archives: September 11, 2012

Outfit…

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from Decoration Day by the Drive-By Truckers. Jason live at my favorite radio station, KEXP.

Drive-By Truckers’ Decoration Day

 

You want to grow up to paint houses like me, a trailer in my yard till you’re 23
You want to be old after 42 years, keep dropping the hammer and grinding the gears

Well, I used to go out in a Mustang, a 302 Mach One in green.
Me and your Mama made you in the back and I sold it to buy her a ring.
And I learned not to say much of nothing and I figured you already know
but in case you don’t or maybe forgot, I’ll lay it out real nice and slow

Don’t call what you’re wearing an outfit. Don’t ever say your car is broke.
Don’t worry about losing your accent, a Southern Man tells better jokes.
Have fun but stay clear of the needle. Call home on your sister’s birthday.
Don’t tell them you’re bigger than Jesus, don’t give it away.

Six months in a St. Florian foundry, they call it Industrial Park.
Then hospital maintenance and Tech School just to memorize Frigidaire parts.
But I got to missing your Mama and I got to missing you too.
So I went back to painting for my old man and I guess that’s what I’ll always do

So don’t try to change who you are boy, and don’t try to be who you ain’t.
And don’t let me catch you in Kendale with a bucket of wealthy-man’s paint.

Don’t call what you’re wearing an outfit. Don’t ever say your car is broke.
Don’t sing with a fake British accent. Don’t act like your family’s a joke.
Have fun, but stay clear of the needle, call home on your sister’s birthday.
Don’t tell them you’re bigger than Jesus, Don’t give it away.

Don’t give it away.

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and then there’s the supremely talented Jason Isbell

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Jason Isbell covers “Just to Know What You’ve Been Dreaming” by Will Johnson at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, GA, on March 20, 2008. With Browan Lollar on guitar.

I still remember the first time i saw Jason play. there was this baby faced boy onstage at a Drive-By Truckers show a long while back. i think i stood there with my arms crossed, shaking my head at this child onstage with one of my favorite bands of the time. then he proceeded to make the band even better than it was with a string of crazy great albums.

Jason Isbell hard at work, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (shot by Scott Dudelson)

i don’t auto-buy the DBTs anymore. the rock show sort of lost its luster after Jason left. but memories of those sloppy DBT / Slobberbone shows remain.

and i follow Jason’s music avidly. such a talent.

ISO Residue – short and sweet!

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always…keepin…my…own…time

via Stash Studios, “shot by Matt Pence as the group toured Spain recently.”

here’s an IFC article about the song / video:

Will Johnson, from the mouth of babes, er, bears?

 

The Texas treasure Centro-matic returns with its 10th album, Candidate Waltz, one of its best pop songs yet, and a video that offers a little insight to the hours they spend away from the stage.

We caught up with Johnson in Tennessee to talk about life on the road and Centro-matic‘s great new album, Candidate Waltz. The album is out June 21st.

By this point, you’ve made a lot of solo records, a lot of Centro-matic records, and a lot of South San Gabriel records. What’s your favorite thing about leading the old rock band through a new album?

It’s more about exploring the relationship between songwriting and volume–more of a physical event writing Centro-matic music for me than writing for South San Gabriel or solo. That’s a little more subdued and a little more introspective. But writing Centro-matic songs, especially the songs for this record, it was a truly joyful, kidlike experience. I set up a bunch of gear in the kitchen in my old house in a small town in Texas, and I bounced from amplifier to amplifier. Much of it was written on an overdriven bass guitar, which is such a loud but joyous way to write. If I have to pinpoint what the writing is like for each project, I would say that the Centro-matic songs these days are real, front-of-the-brain, unbridled, childlike joy.

That said, a lot of those songs are still about doubts and uneasiness. What’s the balance like for you, between joy and worry, in rock music?

Maybe it’s just my little outpost, but that’s a lot of what life is about to me. It’s about keeping the negative and fearing the worst but hoping for the best. Sometimes, I think the songs harbor some of those emotions. The language or the overtones might feel a little bit negative or sad or sorrowful or even just suspicious, but at the same time, hopefully there’s still an element of hope and positivity. Without a doubt, that’s a pretty common thing about a lot of my favorite writers–not just songwriters, but writers in general. I try to balance those two a little bit and sometimes have them test each other, either through a scenario in a song or through characters or through a setting. I try to set them up against each other and test the limits.

“Iso-Residue” seems to be a song about two people stuck in a situation that’s not quite satisfying. So why turn it up and make it such a pop tune?

That song in particular deals with two individuals who are making do with one another at a certain stage. It’s got a little bit of a raised-eyebrow feel to it. There’s a little bit of suspicion between the two characters in the song, but ultimately, the characters only have each other. They’re figuring out how to proceed and how to make things better. There are clearly some communication problems between these two folks. At the heart of it, I really just wanted to write a quick, catchy pop song that I knew our band would latch onto pretty well and pretty quickly. While I have definitely discussed and analyzed that song as much as I ever have right here with you, at the core of it, I wanted to write a fun, bouncy pop song.

How did the band respond to that song, and, in general, what’s Centro-matic’s process of taking songs from your mind to the stage?

It’s different from song to song, but with a song like that one, when I was writing it, it was really easy for me to envision playing that one and getting it ready to perform very quickly. The instrumentation is not terribly complex. It’s not a heavily layered recording. It’s just a song that I pictured us playing pretty soon. And we did. We got right to it, started playing it out live almost a year and a half ago. We recorded it and then went out and started playing it live. It was recorded not even a month and a half after it was written, so there was a pretty quick turnaround from the writing to the recording. Six months after we tracked it, we were starting to play it live.

That short turnaround is notable here, because the video does seem to focus so much on your touring life–set lists and travel and backstage shots. When you wrote this song, did you know it was something you wanted to get onstage with the band?

Definitely. It’s a pretty quick and bouncy little pop song. That video comes from the soul and the eye of our drummer and recording engineer Matt Pence. He documented so much of this Spanish tour that we did back in November. He has such a talent for catching some of those moments on tour that a lot of people don’t necessarily get to see. Some of those moments are beautiful and serene, like when we have a little bit of time during one of the drive days and we get to the beach. It’s a spiritual hour, so to speak.

Others are your typical backstage settings where, frankly, you hang out and wait for the show to happen. You make jokes or play with food or read books. It’s a very appropriate document of our band’s life on the road during that time. There’s some other footage that he took from our New Year’s Eve show in Dallas at this old theater with our friends Slobberbone. It’s a little bit of a document that came out of a couple of months of our band’s life. A lot of our friends know that we go overseas to play shows, but they don’t know more than the stories we might come back with. To have a video souvenir of some of the daily life we experience on those European tours hopefully adds a little bit of dimension to our ongoing story as a band.

In Raleigh a few years ago, there was an art exhibit called 23 Hours, part of which focused on that idea for rock bands. You travel around, living your life, but you’re only judged for a very specific hour of each day by the public.

It’s easy for folks to forget that there are these other 23 hours of the day for a lot of maintenance–to keep the band afloat, to keep going. 2004 was a really have touring year for me personally. Just as a fun math problem, I added up all the driving mileages and the flights from that year. After adding it all up and averaging about 70 miles an hour or so, I calculated it to where I spent the first 71 days–if you started at January 1st, at midnight, and calculated it with a clock and a calendar–of that year driving or flying or riding, just in transit. You know how much time was spent on stage, actually performing? Just slightly over 10 full days. That’s just driving; that’s not waiting around in the club or any of the other killing of time that happens inevitably during your typical day. It was a pretty sobering realization.

How do you spend this free time on the road?

It gives me a chance to really concentrate on our music and to relearn old songs and to take some notes for some new songs, for sure. It’s a little bit of time to read and really just catch up with the guys. We haven’t done any significant U.S. touring now for years. To tell you the truth, it’s great to all get back together and catch up and tell a few stories and play music again. It’s pretty simple.

Your new role as a father probably figures into how you use your time with the band, right?

Definitely. It’s not a complaint. It’s just a fact of life, a product of evolving as an adult and as a parent. Having a child is definitely the coolest, greatest thing I could’ve ever hoped for. It definitely puts everything in perspective. It makes you realize how small some of things you used to fuss about truly are. That said, it’s definitely a lot of work, too. I’m definitely in full-time dad mode when I’m home. The writing doesn’t happen quite as whimsically or spontaneously as it used to. I really do have to make an effort to carve out the time. It’s a little different layout than it was a few years ago.

 

Running on Empty, The Load-Out / Stay

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speaking of moms — what is this, June?!? — one of the records i remember so clearly from my childhood was a cassette my mom got me. i used to listen to it every night when i was falling asleep. regardless of Jackson Browne’s supposed / possible domestic abuse issues, Running on Empty is one of those records that just brings me back.

we got the okay to pre-order t-shirts for W’12, sort of exciting. thinking about the 12 (12!) bands that will be part of this thing, thought the following was pretty on the money….

Now the seats are all empty
Let the roadies take the stage
Pack it up and tear it down
They’re the first to come and last to leave
Working for that minimum wage
They’ll set it up in another town

Tonight the people were so fine
They waited there in line
And when they got up on their feet
They made the show
And that was sweet
But I can hear the sound
Of slamming doors and folding chairs
And that’s a sound they’ll never know

Now roll them cases out and lift them amps
Haul them trusses down and get ’em up them ramps
Cause when it comes to moving me
You know you guys are the champs
But when that last guitar’s been packed away

You know that I still want to play
So just make sure you got it all set to go
Before you come for my piano

But the band’s on the bus
And they’re waiting to go
We’ve got to drive all night
And do a show in Chicago
Or Detroit, I don’t know
We do so many shows in a row
And these towns all look the same
We just pass the time in our hotel rooms
And wander ’round backstage
Till those lights come up and we hear that crowd
And we remember why we came

Now we got country ‘n’ western on the bus R&B
We got disco in eight tracks, cassettes in stereo
We got rural scenes and magazines
And we got truckers on the CB
And we got Richard Pryor on the video
We got time to think of the ones we love
While the miles roll away
But the only time that seems too short
Is the time that we get to play

People you’ve got the power over what we do
You can sit there and wait
Or you can pull us through
Come along, sing the song
You know you can’t go wrong
‘Cause when that morning sun comes beating down
You’re going to wake up in your town
But we’ll be scheduled to appear
A thousand miles away from here

another Running on Empty is a favorite: so sad and wonderful….

Sidney Lumet at his best. incredible River PhoenixJudd HirschChristine Lahti, and Martha Plimpton.

a favorite scene