Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New Jim White song, interview

Tooting own horn dept.:

PhotobucketFor the latest Popcast, the Times’ weekly music podcast, Jim White dropped by our “studio” (converted, unsoundproofed office). When I met him in the lobby he was wearing a utilitarian green polyester jacket and an even more utilitarian white cap, like the one below (which he apparently signed for a fan). He carried a nice-looking guitar that he had gotten for a song at a Georgia flea market — a sure sign of recession, he said.

White is a natural raconteur. And although he’s often pegged as simplistic “Southern gothic” (I’m guilty of using that critical crutch), he embraces his Southernness and can articulate that muse in fascinating detail, as he did in the documentary Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus.

We talked about his time as a New York cab driver, his formative meeting with Tom Waits, and how he is struggling to write happier songs. (“I’ve got a lot of happy little tugboats turning the sad ship in the direction of the port of contentment,” he said.) He also played a brand-new piece, “The Runaway Song,” and talked about the teenage relationship that inspired it.

It’s a beautiful song, and I enjoyed my conversation with White, as I have recent interviews with Charles Hamilton, Jay Reatard, Julie Fowlis and Cory Chisel. But White’s best comment was edited out. He hit bottom in his Travis Bickle days when he spat on an 80-year-old woman: she was wasted and barfed in his cab, so he gave her what-for. “That’s when I realized something was missing in my life,” he said.

Listen to the full Popcast, which includes reviews of David Archuleta and Deborah Cox, here.


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