Nicholas Williams of indie-folk act Whetherman has graced our MP3 At 3PM section a few times, and now he’s trying his hand at making us a mix tape. Since you are hopefully acquainted with Whetherman’s This Land by now, check out some of the tracks that inspired it.
Father John Misty, “Bored In The USA”
This song both musically and lyrically has moved me since I first started listening to this album. He talks about everything that’s wrong with this country. Hell, I’m bored in the USA, too. If you haven’t taken a trip overseas to countries in Europe, who have been at this for hundreds more years than us, you’ll realize that our country is like a spoiled popular teenager, showing off and pouting because we don’t get our way. I’m a huge fan of his explicit, say-it-like-you-mean-it style of prose.
Hozier, “Cherry Wine”
When I first heard this song, I fell in love with the Irish-charmed melody on both the soft fingerpicking guitar and in his rustic, soulful voice, still coming through with shades of traditional songs from many years ago. The way he generates imagery with his often graphic tone makes for some of the most beautiful lyric writing I’ve ever heard. That sort of walking-a-fine-line-between-heaven-and-hell kind of beautiful, if it ever existed.
Joe Purdy, “Children Of Privilege”
This is my guy. To come from the place he is in this song is the kind of conviction all of us should have. He recognizes privilege as having a good mother and father who teach you how you are to treat others, not coming from wealth or the like. It is also a call to those who are “born with white skin” like myself to stop putting on the charade of pretending like we know real suffering compared to minorities in this country. It may as well have been recorded back in the same time as Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, though it’s exemplary of how he is able to dig into the past with his musical tone and provide insight on how to be a good human being in the world today.
Though they are some of my friends, I’ve never understood how these three were able to write a song that has the depths of a tune like “Suite Judy Blue Eyes.” But they did it in their own way with this one, and the different currents of feels I get when I listen to this song are a mix of nostalgia, being in the present moment and being hopeful for the future—though lyrically the song has nothing to do with that. Not to mention, they use a word so beautifully that I’ve never heard used before in song or in the world: ”simulacrum.”
Rising Appalachia, “Novels Of Acquaintance”
This is the kind of song that makes me want to float down a river on a canoe or a tube, smiling with someone I love and observing the beauty of the surroundings. There aren’t many songs that clear my head from criticism, reflection and create a space of mindful consciousness of where I am, but this is certainly one of them.