Den rigtige Townes

Conor Oberst’s gendannede Bright Eyes udsendte i fredags bandets første plade i ni år. Og hvilket fint comeback-album Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was er, ikke helt lidt Arcade Fire/The Suburbs-agtigt i sin rigt melodiske instrumentering og tilbageskuende melankoli. På Pitchfork fortalte Conor Oberst i weekenden om, hvordan han først hørte Townes Van Zandt, verdens ensommeste tragedie…

– There was this record store called the Antiquarium that was the epicenter for all things left of the dial in Omaha. It was quintessential, straight out of High Fidelity, but even worse. It was in the basement of a bookstore, run by the most pretentious people—this guy Dave Sink would sit behind the counter and chain-smoke cigarettes all day. It was mostly used things and vinyl. Dave would make fun of me for buying CDs. I was like, “But I don’t have a record player!” I guess he ended up being right.

– Dave passed away, and the store is gone now. But he was very generous in the sense that he would let kids hang out there all day and talk shit about music. I became really good friends with him and [songwriter] Simon Joyner, who would work there on occasion. At that point, I had started writing more in the zone of folk-type stuff. I was getting a little more evolved in my interests. One day, they were like, “You ever heard of Townes Van Zandt? I think you’re gonna like it.” For better or worse, it totally changed my life. 

– I think everybody is a combination of their influences, but Townes is the deep, dark part that I carry around. It’s like there’s no anesthetic. It’s just straight to your heart, some of the most beautiful but painful feelings a person can have. His best friend Guy Clark said something to the effect of, “Everyone wants to write and sing like Townes, but no one should want to be like Townes.” And that’s coming from his best friend! I got really into Elliott Smith around that same period. When you’re young, it’s easy to romanticize the tortured artist kinda thing. I absolutely fell for it.

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