In his early days after recording 1993’s Julius Caesar, Callahan was living in an overcrowded house in California, down to his last $100 and a copy of How To Survive in the Wild.
“I took [the book] and went for a long walk one day, hoping to identify some edible berries - since I was running out of money,” he recalls. “I found a berry that looked delicious. I couldn’t identify it in the book. I ate one; it tasted good. So I ate a bunch.” Turns out the berry was in the book, only listed as “mildly hallucinogenic.” “I started to feel funny,” Callahan says. “I thought I would be fine if I could get back to the house in time to drink a couple of my roommate’s fancy beers. There was a message for me: ‘Dan called from Drag City. He says Kim Gordon mentioned you in the latest Rolling Stone and he just sent you your first royalty check.’ I thought I was hallucinating.”
You asked for it, so you got it; wait, what did you ask for, specifically? Right - a bound copy of select Bill Callahan and Smog lyrics pair’d with over a hundred, never-before-seen ink-wash images by the artist, man and myth himself? Check and double-check, mate!
I Drive A Valence is all revved up and ready for you to ride inside it’s tantalizing array of emotional and situational intrigue. The nuances and ambiguities within plain-spoke expression are at the exquisite center of Callahan’s gift, and the plain fact of words on paper nails them down in a concrete fashion that might just wave at eternity somehow more concretely than sounds in the air can conjure. Spanning two decades of songs, I Drive A Valence does this for the listener - makes them a reader - while putting Bill Callahan’s songs on another shelf where they sit just as entirely as they do on LP shelves around the world. Don’t let the dustmotes settle o’er the highway of your pupils without first peeping this most excellent - and essential, really - collection of the artistry and charisma that makes Bill Callahan one of today’s (and time’s) iconic songwriters - clickpulse-order your copy of I Drive A Valance this very minute!
I’m New Here
Look, I found this satisfying combination of words. I want to share it.
I feel like Smog was a different time; I was different people. And who can feel tethered to a line that long and old? It’s more natural to me to think in the form of trilogies. That’s about as far back as I can go in my catalogue and still have an inkling of who I was then and what I was doing. Anything further back than that becomes awkward teenage photos.
Dream River is the last record you could listen to at the end of the day, before you go to bed, around midnight. I wanted it to be smooth and relaxing, the perfect end to a person’s day.