Monday, July 6, 2009

O Come Look at the Burning

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It's so nice when an out-of-the-blue assignment happens to connect with something you're randomly obsessed with at the time.

I had already agreed to write a story for The Oregonian on Louisiana blues man, Kevin Gordon, when I discovered that he's from the part of the state where "True Blood", the TV show I had been watching every night that week to catch up on the first season I missed, was filmed. And it wasn't until I had him on the phone that I learned he's even licensed a song to the show.

What luck! A legitimate chance to write about the thing I couldn't stop thinking about anyway. It made the article flow easily--I think the comparison of the show to Gordon's music really works too, if you'll allow me to pat myself on the back.

Anyway, before I interviewed him, I listened to almost all of Gordon's catalog. I just kept his ReverbNation account playing for thirty-some songs, and I recommend the experience. But Gordon's most exciting material may be to come. Here's Gordon talking about a new song he just recorded, with a working title of "Colfax", which will be on his next album. At seven minutes, it's his longest song, and the first to have a fully narrative structure.

My band director was African-American teaching at an all white school in late '70s. Even in '78 or '79, Louisiana was still a very provincial place and there were a number of old-guard elements still at work there, and being in the band at school meant during the fall you'd march in football games and go to parades in little towns. I don't want to give too much away, but the song is about a conflict that happened on one of those trips.

The older I get, the more those memories come back sharper. It's been great for me to write about that place in that time. In addition to that political stuff, it's also a song of coming of age.

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