Will Oldham/Palace/Bonnie Prince Billie: S&D

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What are your favorites from this massive catalog?

And while you're at it, maybe a few words on what you think makes Oldham interesting (or not so.) I have a few albums, and I like maybe five of his songs a lot, but overall I find him dull. There's not enough melody there for me (I See A Darkness is the exception), but maybe I don't have the right records.

Mark, Wednesday, 19 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

My favorite single song by him is "You have c*m in your hair and your dick is hanging out."

Mark, Wednesday, 19 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

My favorite single song by him is "You have c*m in your hair and your dick is hanging out."

favourite song title, rather. the album from which it's taken, arise, therefor, is very dull though, imo. i'm not an expert on the man, though my brother was very enthousiastic about the palace brothers' there is no-one that will take care of you.

willem, Wednesday, 19 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

"I See A Darkness" is my favourite. "Arise therefore" is just plain WEIRD. What makes him interesting? For me, his obsession with Madonna when he was a teenager. hahah He's actually not that interesting. I don't get it why some people all go gaga over him.

nathalie, Wednesday, 19 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

i thought about doing a wire-style "primer" for ft on oldham when i realized that i own almost all the records. odd, that, as i'd never think to consider oldham a "favorite" in passing coversation, but you can't pick your friends etc. etc.

your appreciation of oldham probably rises and falls with three things: a. your appreciation of his basic shtick (rich indie kid from louisville, ex-child actor playing faux-ozarks ballads), b. the rather...cracked quality of his voice, c. the quality of the songwriting itself (which i think is actually quite high if not exactly immediately memorable...cf. my above comment about not realizing i owned almost all his records.)

it's too early in the morning to do a full on s&d but for right now search:

"there is no one what will take care of you" - the first palace brothers albun, released in its first edition anonymously, not unlike john fahey's first lp. obviously his songwriting and voice are at their earliest but not necesarily weakest: when he stretches out he sounds like a particularly enervated neil young.

"days in the wake" - the most stripped down release in the oldham catalogue, right down to the jandek referencing cover art. mostly just will and guitar, quite a few emotional bombs/great lines dropped, an LP a shade over 27 minutes.

"i see a darkness" - probably his all around best record, 38 minutes, short and sweet. dig the celtic/islands vibe on "madeline mary" and the fuzzed out sub-dub bass of "death to everyone." also, the last track may be the prettiest thing he's ever written.

"ease down the road" - tom favorably compared these to the fat & happy & bearded dylan of the (mid?) 70s. he's right; a contented oldham is not necessarily a happy oldham, but he's certainly janutier than normally.

also SEARCH: the johnny cash cover of "i see a darkness" on american iii: solitary man. a mediation on a vision of death by a man who at the time was staring it directly in the face.

jess, Wednesday, 19 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Will Oldham = accessible Jandek. It's one step away from/closer to complete Indie Guilt of course. hahahah

nathalie, Wednesday, 19 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I like pretty much ever release, some more than others. Viva Last Blues has been my favorite for a long time, Days in the Wake a close second.

The only album I rarely listen to anymore is Arise Therefore, the rest are in constant rotation.

Search the Almost Heaven EP too, with Rian Murphy.

Jeff, Wednesday, 19 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I really, really like "Arise Therefore," more than just about anything else of his. Am I alone in this?

Colin Meeder, Wednesday, 19 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

My favorite song of his is "Gulf Coast", where he sings, "We could watch a blue heron in flight/We could see the sights in town". It's lonesome and funny at the same time and wonderfully perverse. Above all, I think he's a fabulous singer. That's what keeps me listening, even when most of his songs are dull.

Curt, Wednesday, 19 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

It makes me very happy to know Jess is a Will Oldham fan.

Personally though I amn't listening to that kind of music now, I think Will Oldham is a great man. I see a darkness is probably one of my favourite songs ever, I forget if it made my perfect 15 or not.

His cover of AC/DC Big Balls is pretty good too. I don't have all his stuff but I wish I did. I think what makes him interesting is his voice which can convey desperation and sadness better than almost anyone else I've ever heard.

Search Also:Every Mothers Son, and most of I see a darkness album.

Ronan, Wednesday, 19 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

A lot of his albums leave me fairly cold, but the first half-dozen or so singles, oh MAN. "Ohio River Boat Song," "Trudy Dies," "Horses," "West Palm Beach"... also "Riding" from the first album, which I've heard covered a few times.

Douglas, Wednesday, 19 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Search: There Is No-One, Days In the Wake, the Hope EP, Viva Last Blues, The Mountain EP, Lost Blues and Other Songs (most of those great singles, all in one place; "Come In" is the one that kills me every time), I See a Darkness (this didn't do much for me until nearly a year after its release; now it's one of my faves), Ease Down the Road (perhaps his prettiest, if no less occasionally befuddling).

I don't know if I would destroy the likes of Arise, Therefore, Joya, and his inumerable EPs and "versions," but they generally don't do much for me. He definitely hit a slack patch there for a while around A,T.

When he first started out, he appeared to be the epitome of something I really hate--the po-faced roots-music dilettante. But there was something so idiosyncratic and cracked about the first single and album that I was hooked anyway. Then I saw him live for the first time: no acoustic guitars, no wood-smoke croon--he was leading a rock band and wearing leather pants that laced up the sides. Confounded again. Then he put out Days in the Wake: solo acoustic, with tons more of those great what-the-hell-is-that-all-about songs. After that I paid close attention just in case I might miss something.

Now I take him at his word that he's feeling his way forward, trying to write about emotional states that aren't always rational, or that he has trouble articulating rationally. And while even the best albums he's done since have their weak songs--or even moments when it sounds like he's just a musical slummer whacking off with both hands-- like as not he comes up with a few tunes that describe or tap into something I've felt but couldn't have described either. And then there's his singing, which is almost always worth a listen, even though it annoys me to distraction when he chews gum while singing live.

As a side note, I also like the way he casually drops the erotic and vulgar into his lyrics. I mean, some of his lyrics are bizarrely, explicitly sex-obsessed, but that stuff is never there to shock or serve as a punchline (well, except maybe that bit about fucking a mountain). In his songs wrong-headed trysts, cum stains, blowjobs, and cunnilingus are just as much a part of life as not knowing how you feel. Seems pretty sound to me.

Lee G, Wednesday, 19 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink


here's a pic of Will

Steve K, Wednesday, 19 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

God! I completely forgot about the "If I could fuck a mountain..." line! That was CLASSIC. Viva Last Blues is a very special record, I'll say, search that.

Keiko, Wednesday, 19 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I remember seeing him play live around 1994 or so--he did an incredible solo acoustic song that it took me years to figure out was actually Bob Dylan's "New Pony." When I heard Dylan's version, I was surprised that he'd noticed it was actually a good song.

Douglas, Wednesday, 19 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Had a copy of a compilation called Guarapero: Vol 1 (something like that). The live tracks are storming! And there's a nice cover of AC/DC's big balls. The stuff he does with a drum machine isn't so good and I skip it. Its a good collection overall but somehow never got round to getting anything elase by him. Should see him live as well.

Julio Desouza, Wednesday, 19 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

melodious oldham recommendations:
  • lost blues and other songs (singles/rarities comp) - search "lost blues", "marriage", "west palm beach"
  • side 2 of viva last blues
  • "one with the birds", "patience/take however long you want", "little boy blue", "trudy dies" (the 7" version) singles

definitely some melody there for you. check out the peel session of "you have cum in your hair..." which I like better than the original.

i find him interesting because he has a great voice (narrative- wise, but also vocally) uh... is it indie-pride week yet?

gygax! (i forgot my blog password), Wednesday, 19 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Jason Morphew's better, and he's the genuine article. Ever heard of him?

Todd Brandenburg, Friday, 21 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I See a Darkness is top. Saw a show right before that album was released & it was totally brilliant and scary. He's got some excellent songs (O How I enjoy the light & most of the first singles comp., for starters) & the lyrics tend to not fit properly in a fascinating way..
On the other hand I was in a record shop the other day & one of his new discs was on, and I wanted to scream I HATE Will Oldham! he's off key, he can't sing, this song is slow, and boring, and wretched, and only a college kid stopped up with indie guilt and lowered standards would think this was worth a moment of his/her time, and I HATE Will Oldham! argh!
Any artist that draws that kind of reaction is worth investigating, I think.

daria gray, Saturday, 22 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink


Finally, something I can sink my teeth into.

david h(owie), Saturday, 22 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

one year passes...
I think we ought to revive this thread, because Will Oldham rules.

I got Arise, Therefore today. PERFECT for my mood.

Ian Johnson (orion), Sunday, 30 November 2003 01:44 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

i am still kind of amazed that "i see a darkness" is ryan pitchfork's favorite record of the 90s.

fiddo centington (dubplatestyle), Sunday, 30 November 2003 01:48 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

i mean, it's good and all...

fiddo centington (dubplatestyle), Sunday, 30 November 2003 01:49 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I like him. Of course, there are many clunkers in the catalog, but, like my all time favorite artist Neil Young, Will experiments and follows his muse, which is more than can be said for 90% of the indie giants whose lives were changed forever by their 1993 discovery of Pet Sounds or whatever.

Colin, you're not alone, I am also a big fan of Arise, Therefore. I think it's one of his most consistent works. I am very much looking forward to his upcoming greatest hits record, which I heard will be re-recordings.

It's hard to explain the mystique, I'm aware of the pretense of it all, but somehow, I find him very talented despite the obviously forced illusions. I think he'd be great to have a beer with. I don't own all of his records but the ones I do have I would not trade. Fair enough?

roger adultery (roger adultery), Sunday, 30 November 2003 02:04 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

can somebody talk about master and everyone?

arjun (arjun), Sunday, 30 November 2003 18:15 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

i cant seem to remember much past the incredibly beautiful first track - i think its possibly too pretty, i dunno.

jed (jed_e_3), Sunday, 30 November 2003 18:41 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

master and everyone is good to sleep to. i listen to it alone but 'ain't you wealthy, aint you wise' is ok with people. the song 'maundering' resonates strongly with me. i just recently saw a movie called 'all the real girls' and there is an alternate version of 'even if love' that is striking. i enjoy mark nevers' detailed production but i could do without the extraneous ambient bits. the room sound is fine. i enjoyed seeing and hearing the songs of master and everyone performed live and differently, as a band. i'm glad there is a "greatest hits" record coming out soon (of re-recorded songs!!) does anyone know the release date?

russ p., Sunday, 30 November 2003 18:56 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Don't know about the release date. I too saw him live this summer and he performed everything by himself with an autoharp and an electric guitar. I was somewhat surprised that he changed the melody to every single song. Does he always do that?

Elliot (Elliot), Sunday, 30 November 2003 19:18 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

changed the melody to every single song

When I saw him, he didn't so much change as flesh out some of the earlier, sparser melodies. A lot of the really meandering/weird stuff from Days In The Wake, for example, was given a nice full band treatment. He also played with solo electric guitar for about 1/3 of the set, the band coming out to rejoin him for the end.

Ian Johnson (orion), Sunday, 30 November 2003 23:49 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

one month passes...
I too saw him live this summer and he performed everything by himself with an autoharp and an electric guitar. I was somewhat surprised that he changed the melody to every single song. Does he always do that?

Further comments... there's a six minute long, full-band version of "No More Workhorse Blues" on this bootleg from Austria I found. Crazy. Parts of it sound spanish, then when the song climax the drums really start to come in. Unrecognizable initially!

Ian Johnson (orion), Wednesday, 14 January 2004 08:54 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

two months pass...
There's an interview, full discography (no values for anything for some reason) and an incredible photo of will in the issue of record collector that came out a couple of weeks ago.

There's also a wonderfully twisted piece written by will in today's guardian.

hmmm (hmmm), Wednesday, 17 March 2004 09:53 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

four months pass...
"a minor place" (??) is so beautiful. especially the drumming--that's amazing drumming, in a very understated way.

(p.s. THANKS NA!!!!!!)

amateur!st (amateurist), Wednesday, 28 July 2004 03:13 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

strongo to thread?

amateur!st (amateurist), Wednesday, 28 July 2004 03:18 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

i really want to see oldham record some material with brian and maryrose crook - i missed their new zealand tour together..

chris andrews (fraew), Wednesday, 28 July 2004 03:29 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

yr welcome.

St. Nicholas (Nick A.), Wednesday, 28 July 2004 20:02 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

ease down the road has some great tracks, "careless love" being one of my favorite oldham songs. the album has a bouncy feel, good springtime record

russ p., Wednesday, 28 July 2004 21:23 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I've long been familiar with the early Palace/Oldham albums, but was never really a fan... never heard any of the singles... recently, I bought Lost Blues because I enjoy the Bonnie "Prince" Billy Sings Greatest Palace Music CD, and wanted to hear the original versions of the songs I didn't know... and, my god, what an incredible CD that Lost Blues is. I'm almost embarrassed at how perfectly it hits my early/mid-'90s Drag City sweet spot. "Gulf Shores" is currently my favorite song by anyone.

A question, though: how can I find out who played on/produced the songs, without tracking down the original singles? The big Oldham websites don't seem to have that info. I'd like to know which song(s) were produced by Kramer, Adam & Eve, etc...

morris pavilion (samjeff), Monday, 9 August 2004 20:15 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

the bridge on "just to see my holly home" (??) is so lovely-- i like how it keeps going up and up and up when you'd expect it to cycle back to the beginning. it really has a quality of the ecstatic. so nice.

|a|m|t|r|s|t| (amateurist), Tuesday, 10 August 2004 03:44 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

sorry morris pavilion i dunno where'd you'd get that info. palace releases are notoriously taciturn when it comes to credits (i find this one of the more annoying aspects of his schtick actually).

|a|m|t|r|s|t| (amateurist), Tuesday, 10 August 2004 03:45 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

also what does that guitar part on "lion lair" remind me of (the one that goes up and down the scale pretty straightforwardly)? something about the song's lazy tune reminds me -- pleasantly -- of a lot of half-remembered late 80s/early 90s amerindie records, like maybe the last replacements record, or... crap, i cabn't put my finger on it. any help?

|a|m|t|r|s|t| (amateurist), Tuesday, 10 August 2004 04:10 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

i think happy will oldham is more interesting than monomaniacally depressed will oldham (ok, he was never quite so monochromatic as all that, but...)

there's always been a protean quality to his music, which often goes overlooked largely because of the superhuman insularity of his misterioso hillbilly shtick. people tend to link him with these old balladeer types, which a certain prominent vein of his music does encourage. but i hear--sublimated and reconstituted beautifully in the last 3 records--a whole bunch of less-austere influences (sorry mark) there, like a thousand singer-songwriters and alterindie bands.

|a|m|t|r|s|t| (amateurist), Tuesday, 10 August 2004 05:04 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

i'm talking about the music more than the words, which remain pretty sui generis.

|a|m|t|r|s|t| (amateurist), Tuesday, 10 August 2004 05:05 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

i know this is just a misreading, but i sort of like how i always forget whether "holly" is the name of his girl or an adjective modifying "home."

|a|m|t|r|s|t| (amateurist), Tuesday, 10 August 2004 05:07 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

also i can't think of many songwriters who would risk a song that is: verse. verse. lead-up. chorus. end. full stop. ("raining in darling.") awesome.

|a|m|t|r|s|t| (amateurist), Tuesday, 10 August 2004 05:34 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I can't wait to work my way up to those Bonnie "Prince" Billy albums, now that I'm on an Oldham kick. (I just ordered the "Hope" EP and Guarapero.) I hope I continue to enjoy the new stuff I hear even half as much as I'm enjoying the songs on Lost Blues. (Today's pleasure: the little ascending guitar hook on "O How I Enjoy the Light.")

I don't know why I never really responded to the other Palace albums (though I like some of the songs on "Days in the Wake"). These early singles are just another breed - not just the songs themselves, but the production, the playing, the atmosphere...

morris pavilion (samjeff), Tuesday, 10 August 2004 15:28 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

sorry for overposting. maybe in the year 2041 someone will discover this thread and share my predilection for armchair anaylses of will oldham tunes.

"just to see my holly home" is a very funny song. it's about, i guess, the dark side of the whole "nuclear family" thing--the family has a remarkable closeness, but it comes from denigrating and attacking all others and ultimately locking them and the world out forever. oldham cheerfully places mysogynystic musings next to a kind of idealization of his partner/family. anyway this is a boring exegesis but what makes it work is how oldham finds a peculiar balance b/t silliness and earnestness. the balance wouldn't hold if the song had such an insinuating sound.

|a|m|t|r|s|t| (amateurist), Tuesday, 10 August 2004 16:17 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

i mean to write, if the song didn't have such an insinuating sound.

|a|m|t|r|s|t| (amateurist), Tuesday, 10 August 2004 16:18 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

the Hope EP was my favorite until this recent split with Brightblack (which I STILL don't even own)

roger adultery (roger adultery), Tuesday, 10 August 2004 16:56 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

The "Get On Jolly" EP (with Marquis de Tren) is the greatest thing he ever did. indeed, II-IX from it is one of the most beautiful songs ever written.

jed_ (jed), Tuesday, 10 August 2004 23:30 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

never really got into most of lost blues but the last song (think its the last one anyway) is incredible
also the brute choir

robin (robin), Tuesday, 10 August 2004 23:31 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

can't help repeating myself but I love "Whipped". as funny as it is affecting, like much of w.o.'s best stuff

the new LP versh is great but I still prefer the bombast of this one

rip van wanko, Wednesday, 19 November 2014 03:18 (three years ago) Permalink

"it's valentine's day / and i'm catatonic" is such a great line

marcos, Thursday, 20 November 2014 16:18 (three years ago) Permalink

i really like the album he did w/tortoise too

i did it all for the 'nuki (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 20 November 2014 19:30 (three years ago) Permalink

five months pass...


Will backed by Britt Walford on drums and Zac from Grails on guitar.

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Tuesday, 28 April 2015 16:26 (two years ago) Permalink

*imagining a 'conceptual collaboration' between Will Oldham, Stephen Stills, & these guys

Heroic melancholy continues to have a forceful grip on (bernard snowy), Tuesday, 28 April 2015 19:43 (two years ago) Permalink

two months pass...

finally picked up ease down the road, it is pretty good

marcos, Tuesday, 30 June 2015 14:25 (two years ago) Permalink

i like it way better than master & everyone

marcos, Tuesday, 30 June 2015 14:25 (two years ago) Permalink

i could imagine it being a letdown after darkness but 15 years later when it is just another title among oldham's 20-odd albums it is very good

marcos, Tuesday, 30 June 2015 14:27 (two years ago) Permalink

kind of reminds me of "joya", mid-period oldham that is somewhat minor but still interesting and pleasant

marcos, Tuesday, 30 June 2015 14:28 (two years ago) Permalink

wasn't joya the first lp under the will oldham name? it felt momentous to me (at 16) for that reason and so looms large in my personal palace cosmology. really good record still i think. i need to revisit ease down the road.

adam, Tuesday, 30 June 2015 14:34 (two years ago) Permalink

I like both Joya and EDTR. They're records that could only have been made by a guy in his thirties. Anyway, that's how I like to think of them.

The s/t album from 2013 is, I think, his strongest work in years.

I went back to Master & Everyone a few weeks back and found it really dull. I always confuse that one with Beware (which iirc is pretty good)

Wimmels, Tuesday, 30 June 2015 15:08 (two years ago) Permalink

oldham sounds so good on this new joan shelley song: https://soundcloud.com/noquarterrex/stay-on-my-shore-by-joan-shelley

tylerw, Tuesday, 30 June 2015 15:10 (two years ago) Permalink

He did a low-key show in Louisville the other night, would have been great to be there.

anthony braxton diamond geezer (anagram), Tuesday, 30 June 2015 15:15 (two years ago) Permalink

Ease Down The Road is my favorite. And perfect one to listen to this time of year. Pajo's Allman-y solo on "May It Always Be" followed by the line "And in the morning we'll wrestle and ruin our stomachs with coffee."

... (Eazy), Tuesday, 30 June 2015 15:17 (two years ago) Permalink

The only blight on that record is "Just To See My Holly Home." I always skip that one.

Wimmels, Tuesday, 30 June 2015 15:29 (two years ago) Permalink

nah. that's one of the better songs on that album imo.

circa1916, Tuesday, 30 June 2015 15:36 (two years ago) Permalink

ent back to Master & Everyone a few weeks back and found it really dull. I always confuse that one with Beware (which iirc is pretty good)

― Wimmels, Tuesday, June 30, 2015 11:08 AM (30 minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

i confuse them too. i have never been able to get into master & everyone, it definitely seems super dull and boring, i don't know maybe it will click for me one day

marcos, Tuesday, 30 June 2015 15:40 (two years ago) Permalink

i love holly home!

marcos, Tuesday, 30 June 2015 15:40 (two years ago) Permalink

M&E is like a balm/relief for a troubled psyche, it's soft, tenuous, warm. there are nice subtleties to mark nevers' production.. he also recorded is a woman by Lambchop, which is remarkably lush and spare.

braunld (Lowell N. Behold'n), Tuesday, 30 June 2015 15:48 (two years ago) Permalink

definitely a lot of beautiful and subtle touches poured onto M&E, but the songs (outside of The Way, which is gorgeous and crushing) never really stuck with me.

circa1916, Tuesday, 30 June 2015 15:53 (two years ago) Permalink

been many years since i've listened though. should really revisit.

circa1916, Tuesday, 30 June 2015 15:54 (two years ago) Permalink

"maundering" resonates, w/its lyrics, and a lean, ranch fence-styled guitar lead.. a minor highlight of the album. weed helped to synchronize with the general wavelength/vibe of the album.

braunld (Lowell N. Behold'n), Tuesday, 30 June 2015 17:12 (two years ago) Permalink

caught them live, maybe a year or so after master and everyone was released. the songs def had more weight and power, spruced up and rocked out somewhat. it helped to be already familiar with the material as well.. they played at one of the better venues (the zephyr) in salt lake city, before it closed down. I believe ZWAN had also played in town that day, as some of the members were in the audience.

braunld (Lowell N. Behold'n), Tuesday, 30 June 2015 17:24 (two years ago) Permalink

six months pass...


djh, Saturday, 23 January 2016 09:31 (two years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

Saw him last night at the Vic in Chicago. He's got an astoundingly gifted band with him right now. The last song -- a medley of "Jolly One (2/15)" and "New Partner" that included harmonies from Maiden Radio (including Joan Shelley and Cheyenne Mize) -- was just gorgeous.

Having heard him in the early days then sort of checking out for good twelve or fifteen years, I'm blown away at the artist he's turned into. The thing that kind of blows my mind is that he still has a long career ahead of him. Really curious where he'll be creatively in another ten years.

john. a resident of chicago., Friday, 19 February 2016 16:14 (two years ago) Permalink

Nice, he's been doing that as a set closer for a while:


Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Friday, 19 February 2016 16:55 (two years ago) Permalink

So majestic when he's hood flies off at the end of the song. Surely staged.

Jeff, Saturday, 20 February 2016 12:43 (one year ago) Permalink

Will Oldham can control the weather. Next steps in career: mainstream country success, own line of eyeliner, meteorokinesis.

Jeff, Saturday, 20 February 2016 12:52 (one year ago) Permalink

five months pass...

I've been aware of Oldham since his earliest output, which didn't do much for me back then, and in the ensuing years I've dipped in and out of his vast discography. Some albums are good, some not as good, but for some reason I'm one of those guys for whom "I See a Darkness" is the only Oldham I'll ever play. The guy is certainly gifted, but I sometimes feel like there is a secret language I'm just not understanding, or other people are pretending to understand. Is it me, or is it him?

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 2 August 2016 22:32 (one year ago) Permalink

A sentence I have not heard anyone utter in at least twenty years: "There's a song on the new Bonnie Prince Billy album you've just got to hear." Talented chap but has been coasting / resting on his laurels for a long time.

Wimmels, Tuesday, 2 August 2016 22:54 (one year ago) Permalink

It was a while ago but I think Superwolf has some must-hears.

JoeStork, Tuesday, 2 August 2016 22:56 (one year ago) Permalink

I really want that album he did with Bitchin Bajas with the fortune cookie lyrics

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 2 August 2016 22:58 (one year ago) Permalink

josh - i think, at least to me, the 'secret' language you allude to is rather just the 'world' of palace/bonnie itself. will's skew-whiff delivery aside, the appeal for me is how he fluidly embodies his work... the way he just seems to breathe and live everything thats inside him. it can seem cryptic on the surface. really i think its just existential. i feel the same way about jandek, who's existential throughout his catalogue, too. while jandek's a tough listen, sometimes, i can sit and read jandek's lyrics for hours on end. digressing a bit, but... i suppose that's as succinct as i can try to be about will. maybe it sounds like im talking out my arse... im just trying to articulate what you picked up on a bit.

meaulnes, Tuesday, 2 August 2016 23:09 (one year ago) Permalink

I think the best record he did was the one with Nashville session guys, Sings Greatest Palace Music. I didn't mind Singer's Grave a Sea of Tongues, but whatever. I've always found him just a bit...ahh, ehh. He's got good taste in stuff, for sure.

Edd Hurt, Wednesday, 3 August 2016 02:12 (one year ago) Permalink

Ease Down The Road is my pick. Also, his book-long conversation with Alan Licht is pretty good at articulating the choices of persona, arrangements, etc.

thrill of transgressin (Eazy), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 02:15 (one year ago) Permalink

fave thing he ever did was that version of Hot Chip's I Feel Better, "I Feel Bonnie"

mingalaba, Wednesday, 3 August 2016 02:25 (one year ago) Permalink

How does this thread have no mention of the gorgeous, moving, lyrical The Letting Go? Dawn McCarthy brings ellipsoid, inverted harmonies from another dimension, Valgeir Sigurðsson's production and orchestration is sympathetic and minimal, and the songs are understated and absolutely devastating.
Oldham's greatest work bypasses form and makes an unusually direct emotional connection. If you don't feel it, you don't, but I do.
Seek: Days in the Wake, Hope EP, Viva Last Blues, Arise, Therefore, Black/Rich Music, Lost Blues, I See a Darkness, Little Lost Blues, The Letting Go
Destroy Sings Greatest Palace Music (sorry, I know many like it) - apart from TLG he kind of lost me after that.

MatthewK, Wednesday, 3 August 2016 03:24 (one year ago) Permalink

yeah there are tons of great songs in his stuff from the last decade... he just releases a lot of stuff, which i think minimizes the market/word-of-mouth impact of any one album or song.

wizzz! (amateurist), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 04:48 (one year ago) Permalink

I was completely obsessed during my college years. Yeah, as beautifully articulated above, it's less catchy jams and more about a lilting, dark/light mystic world that he conjures and inhabits. I think he's a brilliant lyricist and persona.

circa1916, Wednesday, 3 August 2016 06:26 (one year ago) Permalink

This is his most underappreciated song in recent years that I've heard.

Chris L, Wednesday, 3 August 2016 08:59 (one year ago) Permalink

I love this all-time classic post (well okay, actually two posts)

i went to a fair in a small and quaint english town once & all the villagers were wearing costumes & among them walked bonnie prince billy

― schlump, Saturday, 15 November 2014 06:51 (1 year ago) Permalink

i have a picture somewhere

it was nice because there was a moment when we pointed across the harbour while we were eating at a man with a big beard wearing all denim, & said that he looked like bonnie prince billy, this amusing because bonnie prince billy's look is that of the strange man of the village, probably at least approximately replicated in most small and quaint villages

but it was bonnie prince billy

― schlump, Saturday, 15 November 2014 06:53 (1 year ago) Permalink

Tell me who sends these infamous .gifs (bernard snowy), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 11:05 (one year ago) Permalink

I'm far from a BPB completist, but I feel comfortable saying that the best thing he's done in recent years = helping to launch Angel Olsen's career. The Now Here's My Plan EP of reworked old material is also a highlight... I seem to recall the 2013 s/t LP being nice though I haven't listened to it since it first came out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSO2SqwI-cI <<< this is hawt

Tell me who sends these infamous .gifs (bernard snowy), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 11:09 (one year ago) Permalink

A like a lot, or at least some, of what many of you have mentioned - I want to say I've enjoyed The Letting Go and more recently Beware and Lie Down Into the Light, though not Plays Greatest - but like I said, "Darkness" is the only one I honestly ever go back to. It could be that at least from my perspective, even if his other stuff is good, that album is just better? I dunno. Like I mentioned, I've been at least casually following him since, I dunno, 1993 or so? That's when I moved to Chicago, and that's when a lot of friends of mine were really into Palace. But Palace never did it for me then, and every several years I try again and it has yet to click. I don't find it objectively "bad," I just can't put my finger on what's pushing me away. (I'm also not a fan of Slint, so who knows.)

I think the persona thing may be what keeps me a few arms lengths away. I mean, Dylan has a persona, too, but I've never had much of an emotional connection to his music, even the stuff I like best, yet that's never been a problem; I find him best at his funniest, not his most heartbreaking. But BPB, I've had people say "you have to listen to such and such song/album, it will just reduce you to tears!" Yet while I can hear, academically, what he's after, perhaps it's the persona stuff that keeps me from embracing it, or getting out of it what he wants me to.

That said, like Dylan, I think Oldham can be really funny, too, but maybe it's just funny in all the wrong places and that throws me off.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 3 August 2016 13:17 (one year ago) Permalink

i like this guy most on side-projects it seems. that Bitchin Bajas thing (weiiird meditative noodling) and Superwolf are highly recommended!

Ludo, Wednesday, 3 August 2016 14:30 (one year ago) Permalink

lie down in the light & beware are both great

Pull your head on out your hippy haze (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 14:39 (one year ago) Permalink

His most recent 'proper' album, Singer's Grave - A Sea of Tongues, is really very good.

Steve Reich In The Afternoon (Against The 80s), Wednesday, 3 August 2016 14:47 (one year ago) Permalink

i adore all the palace stuff, ISAD, joya, all BPB up to ease down the road, after that i find him really boring and spotty but there is a lot i haven't listened to. master and everyone, beware, etc are snoozefests, though lie down in the light has a few songs i really enjoy. i still ahven't heard greatest palace music! i bet i would like it.

marcos, Thursday, 4 August 2016 14:24 (one year ago) Permalink

one year passes...

My friend Caroline Peyton sings on Singer's Grave, she'd worked w/ Mark Nevers previously and Will thought her voice would be perfect for "Quail and DUMPLINGS!."

eddhurt, Sunday, 4 February 2018 20:18 (two weeks ago) Permalink

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