Saturday, December 20, 2008

Jingle Bells: Christmas Day

Jim White: Christmas Day


I saw Jim White almost a decade ago, purely by accident: he was opening for Lucinda Williams, and I have to admit, I was totally blown away by the spectacle of light and stage presence, hushed half-harmonies and looped sound. White's work is often considered folk music, but if it is, it's folk music played through a thousand filters of haunted moaning atmosphere, freakfolk creaky tones, and cultural pastiche. It's like folk music from the time David Lynch and Jim Carroll tried to make a delicate, hushed indiefolk album, and left it in the hands of that guy from the Eels to produce.

Which is to say: I suppose there's a particularly southern trailer park form of singer-songwriter's heart buried in there, but it's one which references both James Taylor singing Fire and Rain and clips from Amazing Grace even as it buries the word bitch in a slow waltz about a Greyhound Station on Christmas Day 1998. The bells are a call to Christmastime, as they are so often wont to be, but they don't make the song any less odd, only that much more experimentally endearing.

Aw hell, words fail me. Just listen, and don't stop until it unravels and falls to pieces at the end. And if you ever get the chance to see Jim White perform, take your weirdest friend for company.

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