(video credit Volume One)
To say more after all that has been said is to risk beating a dead unicorn, so I will simply express one final time my deep gratitude for being included in the recent Eaux Claires festival.
For those who requested text of the narration I did to introduce The National on Friday and Bon Iver on Saturday, here they are (video of the Bon Iver intro above) (I dunno, you get in front of that many people you tend to either go goggle-throated or get your preacher on…):
INTRO FOR THE NATIONAL
(Backstory: I first met Aaron Dessner of The National just two miles from my farm in the middle of winter.)
Last winter a man stood bundled in the snow not far from here.
The air in his nose was alcohol cool, his white breath hung like surrender.
Oxygen, expired as ice.
Winter is the great equalizer. Knocks everything flat. Kills it dead.
This leaves us with the miracle of spring. Followed by the decadence of summer, when the man returns. Stands in the deep swampy green and understands he has witnessed a slow-motion resurrection. That some seed he dropped that long ago frozen day has thrust itself from the earth to shatter every icicle, send them running to the river, the river right behind you, the river right behind you, the music…right in front of you.
INTRO FOR BON IVER
(Backstory: Through some high-level contacts I knew Bon Iver was going to open with Heavenly Father.)
It’s good to see you here. Everybody gathered around for vespers. Nothin’ much left to do here in the evening hour now but gather round and sing a few hymns.
My name is Michael Perry. It’s been my honor and my privilege to be the narrator of the Eaux Claires Festival. We are so grateful you joined us here. We’re pretty much an unbeautiful bunch, man. We are flat-footed clodhoppers who feel inside like maybe we could dance, and we don’t really know any other way than to just get at it and have at it.
And we know it wouldn’t happen without our neighbors, without those who raised us, without this Chippewa Valley, and without you.
If you hold yourself still and silent now, you can feel that river behind you. Runnin’ through the night. Runnin’ through all time.
It’s good to have music near a river. There’s this idea of baptism. Of absolution. No matter what you believe. Better yet, it’s good to have music near a place where two rivers come together. A confluence. For what are we but a confluence—a confluence that lives and breathes, a confluence of dream and song, a confluence of 22,000 beating hearts.
And so here we are, cradled by a river in a sanctuary of sound.
On bended knee, seeking…benediction.
In light of the Long Beds and I playing tonight at Phoenix Park (and then the Firehouse), here’s a little thing I wrote about the two things Tim McGraw and I have in common.
Been asked that question a lot. Eaux Claires festival creative director Michael Brown helps explain it here.
I was a bachelor for 39 years. Pretty poor batting record relationship-wise. Back around the time Population 485 came out, my friend Gene burned a series of CDs for me to play on book tour. I recently uncovered one of them in a dusty corner. As you can see by the cover Gene chef’d up he’s a physical therapist, not a graphic designer. But you can also see he possesses a pitiless sense of humor.
Lonesome Day Blues — Bob Dylan
Buenas Noches From a Lonely Room — Dwight Yoakam
Long on Lonely — Randy Travis
High Lonesome Sound –Vince Gill
Walkin’ the Streets Alone — The Marshall Tucker Band
Alone So Far — Old 97’s
One and Only — Texas Tornados
Lonely Weekends — Tom Petty
Lonely Yukon Stars — Riders In the Sky
Carry Me Back to the Lone Prairie — Riders in the Sky
Lonesome Valley — Fairfield Four
Solitude — Billie Holiday
It’s a Lonesome Old Town — Frank Sinatra
Only the Lonely — Frank Sinatra
I’ve Been Lonely for So Long — Frederick Knight
So Lonely — The Police
Thank you to Mike O’Brien for this photo album of the Long Beds show at the Heyde Center with Sue Orfield. That was a good’n.
Favorite moment in the booth while recording The Jesus Cow audiobook:
Y’noodle around, D-A-G, y’figure maybe you’ll write a song, then y’listen to Jason Isbell, think, Well, maybe I could do finger paints.