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Gillian Welch: “The Way It Goes” and “Elvis Presley Blues”

Talent gets handed down in strange ways: Gillian Welch’s parents, according to Wikipedia, were writers for The Carol Brunett Show. Here is part of the profile:

In the early ’90s, Welch attended the Berklee School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, where she began performing her own material, as well as traditional country and bluegrass songs, as part of a duo with fellow student David Rawlings. After honing their skills in local open mike showcases, the duo began performing regularly throughout the country. While opening for Peter Rowan in Nashville, they were spotted by musician and producer T-Bone Burnett, who helped Welch andRawlings land a record deal. With Burnett producing, they cut 1996’s starkly beautiful Revival, an album split between bare-bones duo performances — some even recorded in mono to capture a bygone sound — and more full-bodied cuts featuring legendary sessionmen like guitarist James Burton, upright bassist Roy Huskey, Jr., and drummers Buddy Harmon and Jim Keltner(Continue Reading…)

Mother Jones did a profile of Welch in its July/August 2011 issue. This is how it starts:

“We’re insane,” says Gillian Welch with a laugh. She’s in Los Angeles, taking a break from finalizing the cover art for The Harrow & The Harvest, her first album in eight years—out June 28. She’s decided to have the package letter-pressed, so she’s taking meetings with printers before driving (yes, driving) all the way home to Nashville. “I don’t know many people who take the album more seriously as a piece of art than we do,” she adds. Such a craftsman-like attitude is hardly a surprise coming from Welch, who has established herself as one of the leading figures in American roots music. She was adopted and raised in L.A. by a husband-wife comedy-and-music team, and met Dave Rawlings, her musical soulmate, at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Over the course of four acclaimed albums and collaborations with artists ranging from The Decemberists (she features prominently on the band’s hit album, The King is Dead) to soul legend Solomon Burke, Welch came to be celebrated for her stripped-down style and plainspoken lyrics. “Acoustic music is alive and well,” she says. “As it mutates, it helps define our place in the pantheon.” (Continue Reading…)

Her guitarist, Dave Rawlings, is terrific as well. This post was suggested by my brother. Above is The Way it Goes and below is Elvis Presley Blues. Here is Welch’s page at NPR.

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Also of Interest

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.