Tag Archives: Bill Callahan

New Joan Shelley video: Amberlit Morning (ft. Bill Callahan)

Video: Joan Shelley – “Amberlit Morning” (ft. Bill Callahan)

Joan Shelley (feat. Bill Callahan) "Amberlit Morning" [Official Video]

Directed by Cyrus Moussavi & Brittany Nugent. From The Spur, out June 24 on No Quarter.

These two sound like they were destined to sing together.

Shelley says, “As I wrote this song, I watched it take on this theme of beauty and impermanence. I imagined making it a duet that would feel like a conversation between two constellations. I wanted to be sung a mythical bedtime story, one that Bill Callahan might write. So I asked him to write and sing it with me.”

Callahan says, “Joan’s guitar riff instantly sucked me into the world of the song. A world that was ongoing and ending and going on again. She wanted a little help fleshing it out, or just having someone else’s perspective on what she was looking at. I threw in some lines that she called mythical. I tend to see in myths, in dreams. I may have added a chord change, possibly at her request — the beautiful thing about the song for me is that it’s kind of covered its tracks in the snow so now I can’t remember entirely what I added or changed. Maybe that guitar riff is someone covering their tracks in the snow. I can just appreciate the mystery of the thing as a whole. Joan claims the high voice at the end is mine, the high voice covering the tracks of the low. I don’t know if I believe her.”

Who knows? Probably doesn’t matter who did what. It’s a beautiful song.

Joan Shelley: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Bill Callahan video: Cowboy

Video: Bill Callahan – “Cowboy”

Bill Callahan "Cowboy" (Official Music Video)

Directed by Anthony Gasparro and Mikey Kampmann. From Gold Record, out now on Drag City.

Callahan is one of those artists where I’ve liked every song I’ve heard by them but I don’t own any of their albums because their discography is so large and I don’t know where to start. You’d think that the ease of streaming would solve this conundrum but for dingdongs like me, having immediate access to everything only compounds the issue.

Back in the day, I would stumble across a CD in the used bin for $6 and just pick it up and start there. Allow synchronicity and kismet to set the path.

But it’s been a while since I’ve been to the record store, and besides, the knowledge that I could just go home and stream anything puts up a mental barrier that stops me from pulling the trigger. So instead I just end up buying another copy of one of those Rolling Stones ABKCO SACDs that I pick up whenever I see them. It’s a problem.

So here’s another great song from another Bill Callahan album I don’t own. Maybe I’ll start with this one and work backwards. That’s a good idea. That’s a plan!

Callahan told Apple Music that “Cowboy” is “kind of nostalgic for the way TV used to be. There would be a later movie, and then later there was a late, late movie. If you were staying up to watch that, it would usually be after The Tonight Show. That meant something. It meant you’re up pretty late, for whatever reason. You might be being irresponsible, or you might just be indulging yourself. Now that TV is on demand, I don’t think anyone really watches late-night shows at night anymore—they just watch the highlights the next day. So on one level, it’s about that loss of sense of place that TV used to give you, because it was a much more fixed thing. And that kind of correlates to watching a Western, because that’s about a time that is also gone. I was just thinking about that, the time of your life when you can just watch a movie at two in the morning.”

Trying to fit it all in
Before the test pattern and the anthem
And off to bed you go, and off to sleep
And off to dream that trail you ride.

Ride along, little doggies. Ride along.

Bill Callahan: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Bill Callahan and Bonnie Prince Billy: The Wild Kindness (ft. Cassie Berman)

Video: Bill Callahan & Bonnie Prince Billy “The Wild Kindness” (ft. Cassie Berman)

Bill Callahan & Bonnie Prince Billy "The Wild Kindness (feat. Cassie Berman)" (Official Music Video)

Directed by Ben Berman. Single out now on Drag City.

It’s David Berman week, apparently. Yesterday, we featured the video for a song by a member of what was supposed to be Berman’s touring incarnation of Purple Mountains, and today we have a cover of a Silver Jews classic by his Drag City labelmates and his widow.

Bill Callahan and Will Oldham have been releasing covers of classic tunes throughout the pandemic. My favorite of these has been their version of Steely Dan’s “Deacon Blues” but this one’s pretty good too.

They recruited an army of singers for it. In addition to Cassie Berman, they’ve also got Elisa Ambrogio, Meg Baird, Ben Chasny, Bill MacKay, Haley Fohr, David Grubbs, Cory Hanson, Emmett Kelly, Matt Kinsey, Sean O’Hagan, David Pajo, Todd Rittmann, Alasdair Roberts, Matt Sweeney, Mick Turner, George Xylouris, Azita Youssefi. That’s like half the Drag City roster!

Callahan says, “The infrastructure of this song should set an example to politicians of all type—everybody sings of wild kindness.”

Not sure it can hold a candle to the original but it was probably cathartic to record and maybe even fun. The video is hilariously silly.

Bill Callahan: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.
Bonnie Prince Billy: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Bill Callahan and Bonnie Prince Billy: The Wild Kindness (ft. Cassie Berman)

New Bill Callahan and Bonnie Prince Billy video: Deacon Blues

Video: Bill Callahan & Bonnie “Prince” Billy – “Deacon Blues (ft. Bill MacKay)

Bill Callahan & Bonnie Prince Billy "Deacon Blues (feat. Bill MacKay)" (Official Music Video)

Directed by Michael Tully. Single out now on Drag City.

It’s easy to hate Steely Dan when you’re an angry young person. The music is slick and perfect and the lyrics are mean and condescending. It sounds so adult. None of that reckless teenage abandon that makes rock and roll fun and exciting.

But you know what eventually changes your perspective? The Cuervo Gold and the fine Colombian…

These days I can’t even imagine not loving the Dan. Walter Becker and Donald Fagan are hilarious, and that’s something I didn’t pick up on when I was a kid. I even respect Michael McDonald now, which is something I never would’ve believed I’d admit. And it’s not some silly ironic enjoyment of “yacht rock.” They sound great. What’s not to love?

Clearly Bill Callahan and Bonnie “Prince” Billy feel the same way. Here, they take on Becker and Fagan’s tale of a suburban loser who wishes he was a hip jazz cat with a cool nickname, and it’s beautiful.

They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
Call me Deacon Blues

Callahan’s broken baritone embodies the character of the narrator perfectly. In the original version Fagan makes you smirk at the guy’s chutzpa, but Callahan makes you feel genuinely sorry for him. What more could you ask for?

Bill Callahan: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Bill Callahan and Bonnie Prince Billy video: Deacon Blues