Bonnie 'Prince' Billy "At The Back of the Pit" (Official Music Video)
Directed by Jacob Forman. From I Made A Place, due November 15 on Drag City and Palace Records.
Heck yeah! The fact that the world is doomed isn’t going to bring down our Bonnie Prince, no sirree. He’s already gearing up for the post-apocalypse with a jangly Cosmic American jam that wouldn’t sound out of place on The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark.
When we hear the frogs again we’ll be set to raise our heads
And it won’t matter then if the rest of the world is dead.
Yes between you and me we’ve got a re-population kit
The world will rise again from the back of the pit.
And there’s a new album on the way, too, the first new collection of Will Oldham originals since 2011’s Wolfroy Goes To Town. Oldham says, “In recent years, the whole world of recorded music, in the way that such music is conceived, perceived, recorded, released and distributed, has been atomized. I tried holding my breath, waiting for the storm to pass, but this storm is here to stay and its devastation is our new landscape. What else is a person to do except what he knows and feels, which for me is making records built out of songs intended for the intimate listening experiences of wonderful strangers who share something spiritually and musically? I started working on these songs thinking that there was no way I was going to finish them and record and release them. This was a constructive frame-of-mind that protected the songs until this frightening moment when we let go of them and give them to you.”
We rarely--like…never--just copy and paste shit from a press release. I mean, what would the point be? A press release is background info; just something to start the story and maybe provide a quote. But this passage we just got from Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s camp is just too good to not share:
Bonny Billy and Lady Billy were living on the rim of the active volcano Kilauea (way back in January, when Halema’uma’u was still a lava lake). They woke one morning to the news that a ballistic missile attack was underway, coupled with the advisory that they should “take immediate shelter” (?!). Thirty minutes later, the warning was rescinded, but not before some serious synapse paths were re-mapped. What could they do with such a soul-jostling? Fortunately, they had friends. Friends who had supplied them with THC-laced chocolate covered blueberries. Bonny sat down and scribbled out a paean to these blueberries, to all blueberries, then closed his notebook and that was that. A couple of weeks later, a call came from Chris Garcia, of the legal weed boutique Hi Fidelity in Berkeley. He wanted to open his shop in style, and thought that maybe a collab with the ‘Prince’ would help. Bonny re-opened the notebook and cranked out a jammer, a fruit-filled jammer to end all fruit-filled endeavors. He brought the song to Nashville where, under the guidance of dear friend and colleague David “Fergie” Ferguson, the song was brought to mouth-watering life. Also on hand to make dreams into reality were guitarist Matt Sweeney and drummer Pete Townsend. Back in Kentucky, Tim Morton conceived and executed the video clip that makes us, all of us, smile.
It would be easy to laugh this off as a gag…a lark. That’s what happens with absurdism. But just as Tina Fey told us to eat more sheet cake, there’s a logic and a purpose in acknowledging that we’re living in madness…with madness. Also, blueberries fucking rule.
Will Oldham is a creepy mother fucker. I won’t at all be surprised to find out that he’s a time traveling folky/murderer who dips in and out of various decades singing about who knows what but creeping us all out just the same. And that’s why I love him: He confuses me to no end. He’s like a living David Lynch film.
In “Treasure Map” we hear Oldham’s voice over video of some woman wandering around a mountain forest, but I don’t know why. It’s probably because I am not as smart as I was when I was younger and enjoyed Lynch. I still enjoy Bonnie Prince Billy even if I have no idea why.
I have nightmares. Lots of them. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it on this site a few times, but whenever a CD like this comes across my desk, I feel the need to mention it, if only for therapeutic reasons.
The last thing I need is a 2:00am wakeup call from Will Oldham, but that’s exactly what you get with “Ruby” (mp3), the first track off this album from ex-Nine Inch Nails drummer Chris Vrenna. And this guest-laden dreamscape is haunting enough to leave me with sleepless nights for months.
The reach of NIN is kinda hard to fathom. Everyone remembers the kids in high school who wore their allegiance to Trent on their sleeves (literally in the form of those tattered patches everyone safety pinned to their hoodies), but the true genius of that music was found in the percussion and production, which is why everyone from Robert Smith and Johnny Marr to Will Oldham and Mellowdrone makes an appearance on this album. And it’s great.