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Úvodní stránka » ARCHIVE » Bill Callahan Live
Bill Callahan
Rough Travel for a Rare Thing

Bill Callahan — Rough Travel for a Rare Thing (March 23rd, 2010)

      Bill Callahan — Rough Travel for a Rare Thing 
Δ→  “Spal v ovocné bedně na zádech jako medvěd.”  A v průběhu našeho rozhovoru řekl: “Já opravdu nevím, co se děje, když skládám písně! Jsem slepý námořník, co poslouchá křídla racků, aby zjistil, odkud vítr vane.”  Solo billing for the leader of Smog to continue his reflective songwriting, but with gospel, soul, and pop elements.
Δ→  Back in the ’90s I saw Mr. Callahan as part of a larger group of singer–songwriters who were creating a weird new affectlessness: Ms. Marshall, in her recordings as Cat Power; Will Oldham; Ms. Dall. Sometimes it seemed as if it wasn’t a musical endeavor as much as something else — literary, or philosophical, or attitudinal.
Δ→  Not surprisingly, Mr. Callahan doesn’t see it that way at all. He hardly finished reading a book until he was about 20, he said. He only writes songs as songs. (“Poetry is, like, foreign to me,” he said.) He also claims to have no interest in songwriting as craft. (“I just want to go to that place that music takes you. I don’t even know how you can study a good song.”) And he does not see his work as related to anyone else’s.
Δ→  “I’ve never felt that,” he declared. Not even now, now that he knows what he’s doing? “Less and less,” he said, and made a tight smile.                     © Δ→  Bill Callahan Δ→  Photo credit: Jacob Blickenstaff
Birth name: William Rahr Callahan
Born: June 3, 1966 in Silver Spring, Maryland
Location: Austin, TX
Album release: March 23rd, 2010
Recorded: November 8th, 2007 at The Toff in Melbourne, Australia.
Record Label: Drag City / Sea Note / After Hours
Duration:     69:39
Tracks:
01 Our Anniversary      7:12
02 Diamond Dancer      4:00
03 Bowery      5:58
04 Held      4:59
05 Say Valley Maker      6:52
06 In The Pines      5:50
07 Cold–Blooded Old Times      5:37
08 Rock Bottom Riser      7:10
09 Let Me See The Colts      6:53
10 The Well      9:04
11 Bathysphere      5:58
℗ 2010 Drag City
Δ→  Recorded at — The Toff In Town, Melbourne © Δ→ Author: Innis McAllister Δ→ Bill Callahan Δ→ Bill Callahan (formerly known as Smog) plays St Georges Church in Brighton on August 18 2009
Credits:
Δ→  Bass, Harmonica — Tim Rogers
Δ→  Drums — Lawrence Pike
Δ→  Engineer [Live] — Wil Burston
Δ→  Fiddle, Vocals — Kate Connor, Lara Goodridge, Pria Schwall
Δ→  Mixed by — John Congleton
Δ→  Photography [Label Photo] — Kris Youmans
Δ→  Songwriter — Bill Callahan (tracks: A1 to B2, C1 to D2)
Δ→  Vocals, Guitar — Bill Callahan
Bill Callahan: Austin, United States (2007 — present)
Δ→  Bill Callahan (born 1966), also known as Smog and (Smog), is an American singer–songwriter born in Silver Spring, Maryland. Callahan began working in the lo–fi genre of underground rock, with home–made tape–albums recorded on four track tape recorders. Later he began releasing albums with the label Drag City, to which he remains signed today.
Δ→  Callahan started out as a highly experimental artist, using substandard instruments and recording equipment.
Personal life:
Δ→  Though he was born in Maryland, Callahan's family spent a total of eight years living in Knaresborough in England's North Riding of Yorkshire, with a four year return to Maryland from 1969 to 1973. His parents worked as language analysts for the National Security Agency.
Δ→  Callahan previously dated other high profile musicians Cynthia Dall, Chan Marshall and Joanna Newsom. In 2013, he became engaged to photographer and filmmaker Hanly Banks; they were married the next year.
Books:
Δ→  In July 2010 Drag City published Callahan's Letters to Emma Bowlcut, an epistolary novel.
Δ→  A book of photographs of Callahan by Chris Taylor, titled The Life and Times of William Callahan, was released in January 2013.
Δ→  In October 2014, a collection of ink drawings by Callahan and lyrics spanning his first album as (smog) to Dream River was released, titled I Drive a Valence.          © Bill Callahan at Royal Festival Hall 07 02 14, Credit Howard Melnyczuk
REVIEW
By Mark Richardson; April 16, 2010;  Score: 8.3
Δ→  Bill Callahan's first live album reflects his approach to music. It's a 2xLP set (also available as a download, no CD), and the packaging is minimal — two slabs of vinyl, no notes, and all credits and recording info are printed on the disc labels. The functional nature of the package says, "The music is what's important here." Callahan kicks off the album by mumbling, "We're gonna get right down to business," and then he and the band — guitar, bass, drums, violins — proceed to do just that. It's 2007, they are in a small club in Australia, and Callahan is drawing from a catalog of songs any songwriter would envy. Turned out to be a good night.
Δ→  Though Woke on a Whalehart, Callahan's first album under his own name after leaving the name Smog behind, was just about to come out when Rough Travel for a Rare Thing was cut, the setlist focuses heavily on his previous full–length, 2005's A River Ain't Too Much to Love. Five of the 11 songs come from that release, with stops at Supper, the "Rock Bottom Riser" single, and Knock Knock along the way. There's one reach back to 1995's Wild Love ("Batheysphere"), and one tune from Whaleheart ("Diamond Dancer"). Heard together, with this band providing lean and effective accompaniment, the songs sound like they belong on a single album. Rough Travel flows. Callahan's voice, having grown richer and deeper over the years, is front and center, putting the focus squarely on the words and the way he phrases them. There's plenty going on there to keep things interesting.
Δ→  Indeed, Callahan's singing is a model of how much can be done with a limited vocal range. Sometimes he's half–talking and telling stories. Sometimes he's bending lines to put emphasis on certain words. Sometimes he's doing something close to a croon. In every case, his vocals are bound to the lyrics and reflect how he writes. The songs here are on the long side — six minutes or so on average — but it's not because Callahan wastes words. He knows when to leave space, and he has a way of making hard, clear images stay in your mind. When he sings a word like "gold" or "river," you see the color and you can feel the water. Three words placed next to each other, like "rock," "bottom," and "riser," the way he sings them, can tell a tiny story on their own, complete with a discernible arc. Performance and arrangements aside, Rough Travel, though not a "greatest hits" kind of set, affirms the authority of Callahan's songwriting. No wonder writers tend to love him.
Δ→  Though Callahan's focus can come across as remote and stoic, he can also be playful. Take "The Well", for example. Much of the song focuses on the narrator's obsession with a single drop of water clinging to the edge of an old bucket perched at the top of an abandoned well. It's not much to hang a nine–minute song on, but Callahan imbues the image with drama and gets in some funny lines along the way. Δ→  "Everybody has their own thing that they yell into a well," he sings, one of those lines of his that makes you think, "Yeah, that feels right." And he puts some echo on his voice as he runs down his: a hoot, a "Hello?", and a "Fuck all y'all."
Δ→  The instrumentation here is mostly acoustic, and the structure of the songs, including the traditional "In the Pines", which Callahan has covered on record and turned into something that feels like his own, lend a stately feel. But the songs are not easily bound to genre. Unlike his label–mate Will Oldham, whose loose rootsiness can lead to music that seems like it's drifting in from the past, Callahan's work seems of its time and makes you aware of the artist behind it. And Rough Travel, though ultimately only for established fans, turns out to be a very good snapshot of where that artist's music stood at the end of the last decade. Δ→   http://pitchfork.com/
Label: http://www.dragcity.com/                                                  © Δ→   Photo copyright Tully Grader.
REVIEW
Wyndham Wallace, March 31st, 2010 07:09
ROUGH TRAVEL FOR A RARE THING
Δ→  1996, and Bill Callahan, still known as Smog, has completed an intimate, awkward showcase at London's 12 Bar Club. He's unveiled a song about a failed relationship and its poignant reminders, "All your women things / All your frilly things / Scattered round my room". But he's continued by singing about how "All of these things / I gathered them / And I made a dolly / I made a dolly / A spread–eagle dolly / Out of your frilly things". This explicit honesty about painful obsession shocks his audience, especially your front row correspondent, and when I run into him afterwards in a nearby pub I'm moved to tell him clumsily that he's just performed "the most depressing show I've ever seen". It's meant as a compliment, but Callahan looks confused, even hurt, and scurries away hurriedly.
Δ→  2007, and Bill Callahan steps onto the stage of The Toff in Melbourne, Australia. Δ→  "Let's get right down to business, " he says, and the band breaks into 'Our Anniversary' without a moment's hesitation. This is how Rough Travel For A Rare Thing begins, and within minutes the changes that have come over Bill Callahan over the past decade are as explicit as his youthful lyrics. Nowadays his work may remain introspective, still grounded in an impulse to share little details that speak volumes, but there's a maturity to his songwriting and his performance, a no–nonsense confidence that is light years away from the man that fled from that pub all those years ago. He seems to have grown into his voice, now a rich baritone after the rough edged, tentative tones he once employed. His records, too, are ambitious affairs in comparison to the lo–fi approach of, say, 1993's Julius Caesar: last year's Sometimes I Wish I Were An Eagle was an almost baroque, beautifully arranged collection whose strings could have graced Jimmy Webb compositions.
Δ→  Having said that, sadly, Rough Travel For A Rare Thing is not a lush affair, and its release — vinyl only — reflects that it is an oddity, a record that the label itself flippantly admits on their sales sheet is "pitched towards the in–the–know tastemakers and all their gullible friends". Recorded in a club little bigger than the 12 Bar, it finds him backed by three fiddle players, a drummer and bassist, older songs given a more rustic, folksy makeover much in the style of 2005's “A River Ain't Too Much To Love”. Δ→  The bleak monochrome of his early recordings is gone, but the fuller sound of recent recordings is also absent, with the overall feeling being that this is the sound of Callahan touring on a budget, seeking to make the most of financial restrictions rather than dwell on the shortcomings they may inflict. In fact, it's hard to understand the point of the release until you recognise that it is, exactly as Drag City suggest, one for the fans and little else. It's not, like many live albums, a bridge into Callahan's work, a concise summary of his career given extra weight by the raucous response of a partisan audience. It's simply further proof that he is one of the more eloquent troubadours trawling his way from stage to stage, one that remains a secret treasured by disciples and otherwise overlooked. © Δ→ Author: Erich Schlegel for The New York Times Δ→ 3/20/11 — Musician Bill Callahan at his home in Austin, Texas Sunday March 20, 2011. Freelance by Erich Schlegel NYTCREDIT: Erich Schlegel for The New York Times
Δ→  And so we're offered a selection of sparse, frankly raw recordings of eleven songs — four from A River Ain't Too Much To Love — that come across as live demos bolstered by enthusiastic applause. A world–weary 'Let Me See The Colts' is engaging, and the closing 'Bathysphere' is almost rousing, but the tender rendition of 'Bowery' (from the Rock Bottom Riser EP) is somewhat undermined by a guitar that seems ever so slightly out of tune. And while a rough and ready take on what might rank as a Smog classic, 'Cold Blooded Old Times', nearly provokes audience participation, it all remains a little underwhelming, though significantly it's also honest, a quality Callahan has never flinched from.
Δ→  For those who were there, and for those who have seen him play in similar surroundings, Rough Travel For A Rare Thing is therefore a great opportunity to relive what would inevitably have been an intense experience. For other fans, it might shed new light on old songs. Ultimately, however, there are better ways to experience Callahan: live, in person, or recorded, in a studio. In fact, at times here he seems so comfortable in his own skin, compared to the younger man who write some of these lyrics, that he seems almost detached from the songs. Only a version of 'The Well', nine minutes long and brimful of musical and narrative tension, proves close to indispensable. Beyond that, there's little here to dissuade non–believers that Bill Callahan a.k.a. Smog is anything but an acquired taste that gets easier to stomach the older he gets. Put the LP on a merchandise table at a show, however, and it might prove hard to resist… Δ→  http://thequietus.com/
Also:
By BEN RATLIFF, APRIL 8, 2011
Δ→  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/10/arts/music/bill-callahan-apocalypse-on-drag-city-label.html
INTERVIEW
Bill Callahan by Jon Raymond
Δ→  http://bombmagazine.org/article/3300/
Discography:
As Smog:
Δ→  Sewn to the Sky   (1990)
Δ→  Forgotten Foundation   (1992)
Δ→  Julius Caesar  (1993)
Δ→  Wild Love   (1995)
Δ→  The Doctor Came at Dawn   (1996)
Δ→  Red Apple Falls   (1997)
Δ→  Knock Knock   (1999)
Δ→  Dongs of Sevotion   (2000)
Δ→  Rain on Lens   (2001)
Δ→  Accumulation: None   (2002)
Δ→  Supper   (2003)
Δ→  A River Ain't Too Much to Love   (2005)
As Bill Callahan:
Δ→  Woke on a Whaleheart   (2007)
Δ→  Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle   (2009)
Δ→  Rough Travel for a Rare Thing   (March 23rd, 2010)
Δ→  Apocalypse   (2011)
Δ→  Dream River   (2013)
Δ→  Have Fun with God   (2014)
Filmography:
Δ→  Pola X   (1999)
Δ→  Apocalypse: A Bill Callahan Tour Film   (2012)
Diamond Dancer Lyrics
1.)  She was dancing so hard
She danced herself into a diamond
Dancing all by herself
Dancing all by herself
And not minding
Refr.)  Doing the the thing as she dreamed it
Doing the the thing as she dreamed it
2.)  Her skin was sky blue
Her skin was sky blue
Under the lights
Diamond dancer, diamond dancer
3.)  She was dancing so hard
She danced herself into a diamond
Dancing all by herself
Dancing all by herself
And not minding
4.)  And the one thing on her mind was
The one thing on her mind was:
It's time I gave the world my light
It's time I gave the world my light
Starting tonight
Refr.) Diamond dancer, diamond dancer                              © Credit: images.list.co.uk Bill Callahan
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Bill Callahan
Rough Travel for a Rare Thing

 

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