John Wesley Harding knows when he gets an email, phone message or a piece of postal junk addressing him as “John,” it’s coming from someone who’s never met him. He’s known to friends as “Wes,” since his real name (the one he uses in his second career as an award-winning author) is Wesley Stace. Harding’s 15th album, Who Was Changed And Who Was Dead, depicts an artist well aware of what he does best: marvelously witty lyrics delivered in an emotion-wracked singing voice. Harding will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our Q&A with him.
John Wesley Harding: I haven’t quite gathered my thoughts on Twitter. But this much I have deduced: No one wants to have endless promotion tweeted at them; they want pithy witticisms of less than 140 characters. Or they want you to guide them elsewhere, somewhere interesting or amusing. John Roderick (Long Winters) is good at the former; Colin Meloy (Decemberists) excels at the latter. What we don’t need is thousands of bozos twittering from SXSW about how they’ve just seen a good new band from Brooklyn or eaten a killer burrito at the Magnolia. Despite that, the best thing to emerge from SXSW this year were the tweets of Dag Juhlin (Poi Dog Pondering, Goldstars, Greenwoods, Slugs). I don’t really need to say too much more. You can find them here. The first one was: “I am going to start Tweeting from South by Southwest! (Warning: I am not attending South by Southwest this year. Please enjoy.)” The fun started there.
Three random favorites:
“SXSW: Been on an AWESOME cocaine binge!!! Email me privately for names of fellow binge buddies. Lots of laffs—and some serious talk, too.”
“SXSW: Peter Hook (New Order) at it again. DRUNK as F. at ATM, thinking it was a video game. Piles of cash on the ground. I grabbed $480.”
“SXSW: Hey, anyone know where I can find a determined young band in giant sunglasses handing out their CD? Oh, wait, here are 6,000 of them.”
I loved them so much I asked him to read them out at Wes And Eugene’s Cabinet Of Wonders in Chicago recently. Find all these and much else besides by signing up for his tweets. Includes the classic: “Half-baked TV show idea sitting around: “CSI:NY” It’s about Crosby & Stills investigating Nash and Young. Anyone? Help? Flesh out? Kill it?”
The Slugs’ “Margaret” (download):