Classics: Will Oldham Interview

Note: This interview contains explicit language.

A look into the mind of a great artist, and a great man. This one should be listened to in its entirety.

Will Oldham Interview


Ben Evans: I’m Ben Evans and you’re listening to Fogged Clarity. This evening I’m pleased once again to be joined by prolific songwriter Will Oldham. Will, thanks for taking the time.

Will Oldham: Thanks for hollerin’ at me, its funny cause I always think of it as fogg-ed.

BE: It can be pronounced either way, the ambiguity I guess is something that fits the name itself.

Well, over the past couple of months I’ve found myself going back to a lot of your older work. And perhaps it’s where I am in my own life right now, but a couple of your past album titles have just now struck me as particularly resonant. The first is: “There is No One What Will Take Care of You,” and I know one could interpret this as a suggestion to seek a truth outside of the divine. But I guess I’ve come to view the title as an assertion of the spirit of self-reliance you seem to embody. Can you talk about the title a little bit, and am I even close?

This is like a nightmare, a waking nightmare where you’re testing yourself, and the only way you can earn what you’ve always wanted to do is by breaking through this eleventh hour doubt and doing it. Then you deserve it.

WO: I believe so, say the song “(I Was Drunk At The) Pulpit”—and the title of that record is something that I get worried about every now and again, just in terms of: Where did it come from and where did it take a person to have that stated so clearly? On some levels it’s sort of the braggarts version of the already bragging phrase “If you want something done right you have to do it yourself.” At the end of the day, you don’t have to want something done at all, there are not eyes watching over you, but there are not really eyes watching you either.

BE: That’s fucking insightful. So the compulsion to act and to do something great, if I might, must come from within, and no one’s expecting it; or, you have no obligation outside of yourself, you have that obligation, perhaps, to yourself?

WO: You make the world—with enough strength and enough luck you make the world that you live in. If you accept that there’s participation to be done and an existence to be had—I tend to think there is only one way I want to go through this existence and that’s with my eyes open and my chest out as much as possible. That’s how I’d like to.

BE: Fuck yeah. Fuck yeah, Will. Fuck yeah, man, I could not agree more, and this ties into the other album title I’ve thought a lot about, “The Letting Go.” It seems to me that every man or woman has to come to a point in their own life where they must learn to let go of guilt or anguish or triviality in order to progress and to move forward. I don’t know if that’s where that title came from?

WO: It seems like there’s a crucial time, which for some people can come way too early and can throw shit way out of whack, but there’s a crucial time in which you feel like your paying attention to the rules of others so much and, which is important because there is a lot of existence to get through and it would be stupid to try to get through it without some sense of cooperation and some sense of community, but at a certain point it’s letting go of learning what other people do and saying: From now on I’m going to take everything I’ve learned up to this point and go, and go forward with it. It’s kind of a turning inward with ideally some degree of faith and respect still to the outer world, but saying: You know, I’ve spent so much time looking out, now I’m going to sorta fly blind for as long as possible with the idea that I’ve been in training to live.

I’m thrilled at most corners that I turn walking down the street, I’m thrilled by most pages I turn when I’m reading a book thinking of what it’s going to show and what it’s going to make possible for tomorrow. Its wondrous I guess.

BE: Absolutely. I find one of my own weaknesses is I’m too impressionable, something someone says to me can circulate in my head for days and prove to be an impediment in my own life, and I’m only now learning to shut that out. I wonder if you ever experience that, or if at times in your life there are certain books or films or music that you try to avoid because your not prepared or you don’t necessarily want to go into that state of mind, or that place, or where that piece of media will take you?

WO: Oh for sure, all of the time. All of the time. But I don’t like the idea that that’s a willful ignorance, I like the idea that that’s not denying any kind of engagement. And so sometimes that means if I’m going to say no to this experience, if I’m going to say no to this book, then my defense mechanisms go into overdrive and I’ll say: Well if I have to say no to this book then I’m going to read these two books, or if I have to say no to listening to this musician, this artist, this record, this set of songs, then I’m going to listen to twice as many others to prove to myself that I’m not denying; because I don’t know the reasons why something is intimidating to me or disgusting to me and I don’t like feeling that way, either. I don’t like it when something turns me off, on any level. So, its a matter of saying: Well, I can either sit here and reject, or I can do double-time embracing of something else just to reassure myself that I’m not against the world.

BE: Yeah, and I don’t view it as a weakness in ourselves. I view it as if we are curating our moods, but that’s a dangerous game too.

WO: Its very dangerous because, as far as implying that we know what we’re doing for example, that we have perspective enough—by diving fully into something it requires a lot of denial, and denial is always dangerous even if all of your intentions are good and all your preparations are good; It’s still, when you make a choice your denying an infinite number of other choices.

BE: But that’s what you spoke about when you said you have to learn to trust your own perspective at a certain point, and stick your chest out and go “I’m going to go ball the fuck out.” (laughs)

WO: Exactly, you have to learn to trust your own perspective. And be prepared to change course if you have to, but the best thing you can do is to not make the wrong decision in the first place.

BE: Yeah, absolutely, given all the information you have and the trust that you have in yourself. This is kind of changing courses, but, and this would be a great comfort to me— Do you take comfort in the fact that, after you die there will be a chronicle of your life, of your writing and music, that will be preserved and stay alive for centuries, I imagine, in the future?

No one will take care of you now and certainly no one will take care of you or your legacy after you’re gone in a way that you might find recognizable or trustworthy.

WO: No, well, I don’t…No, no, I don’t know… No. I don’t necessarily believe that, whatever… If, for example, if there were some kind of a revolution in which some political party or leader decided to destroy a large number of people that I had either an ethnic or ideological kinship with, who would want a presence in the world beyond? You know, the future is so uncertain; it’s just a joy to be around and be able to participate now I think, and to the idea of doing work as sort of broadening the navigable atlas of what can happen just during a lifetime. Again, no one will take care of you now and certainly no one will take care of you or you’re legacy after your gone in a way that you might find recognizable or trustworthy.

BE: I think… I’ve found writing and doing this Fogged Clarity thing that the work is a way of coping with kind of the minefield that is existence, and putting your head down and really working. I just talked to Michael Tyrell and he said the same thing, he said: Work is good, work is healthy; especially if you’re doing something that you’re passionate about.

WO: I mean, I think our brains are created to be used. They’re purpose is to figure out either physical, mental or emotional survival, and if you’re not figuring out one of those things then your brain gets lost.

BE: Yeah, and I think that’s exactly what it’s doing for a lot of individuals, particularly around this country. I know this has been said and it’s really passé, but I feel as if we’ve become hyper-stimulated and that a lot of individuals are kind of becoming sedated into ease.

WO: Yeah, hyper-stimulated and hyper-satisfied, exactly.

BE: It’s scary. That’s why you gotta keep pushing, keep moving, like we talked about. But what keeps… I mean we’ve touched on it but, your longevity impresses me as much as anything. What keeps you hungry, what keeps you pushing, why do you want to keep making music?

WO: Hmm, its the twin motivations of… Fear is definitely a big one all the time, but also, it’s reward as well. The sense of waking up in the morning and knowing that there is music ahead of me in the day is such an incredible feeling. If you have two choices: To wake up and have fear in front of you in the day or to have music in front of you in the day—and the more I engage with music the more days I wake up and know that that’s what’s going to be there, as opposed to fear. And the things that come with music, because of the people, and because of—I don’t know, whatever it is in music itself— because of melody and harmony and lyric. I’m thrilled at most corners that I turn walking down the street, I’m thrilled by most pages I turn when I’m reading a book thinking of what it’s going to show and what it’s going to make possible for tomorrow. Its wondrous I guess.

I’m never going to be able to show [my parents] a diploma, I’m never going to be able to introduce them to my boss or show them my retirement plan or anything like that.

BE: That’s awesome. A human being, you know, who doesn’t make music can choose the music of the day over fear, and that’s a critical point that we have to get to when we lift our head from the pillow every morning: Am I going to succumb today, or am I going to emerge and act in harmony with my surroundings?

WO: Yeah.

BE: That’s really nice. Well, as someone who writes poetry, one of my greatest ambitions is to have a piece appear in The New Yorker, the publication that did a feature story on you a couple years ago. Can you talk about your experience with the magazine, and the interviewer, and how you thought the piece turned out?

WO: Yeah, the piece turned out— You know it was one of those things where, and it may even be in the content of the article, I don’t really know a lot of things how… With the work that I’ve done, because I dropped out of school, for example…

BE: Didn’t you go to Brown or Dartmouth?

Like I said, he was a nice, smart guy, but the experience was kind of devastating even just in the four days he was around.

WO: Yeah, I went to Brown for a few semesters.

And dropped out of school and decided to make my own way, I guess, and that was disappointing to my folks. And so I don’t know how to, you know, I haven’t known how to do things for my folks that reflect the appreciation or anything, any sort of respect, and that was something that I knew that they valued. And at the same time, once again, it’s a fairly simple story because a lot of it is in that article; one of the few interesting and satisfying pieces of writing on a musician that I’d ever read was in The New Yorker and it was about Merle Haggard from about 1992 or ’93 or something like that. And so when this guy contacted us to talk about doing a story, I thought, you know I don’t really like… Especially the story he was proposing was going to be super in-depth and he was going to do this research over the course of six months and it was very intimidating, especially because, I don’t know, I like to engage with the people that I’m involved with, and I was thinking like: this is going to be really dangerous if I’m around this guy whose intelligent and I can’t ignore him and so I’m going to engage with him but than also he’s going to leave and go do his thing and that will also leave this gaping hole in my existence and why would I, you know, if I’m making a piece of music one day and he’s there, what part will he play in the making of that music? I mean, its not like he is negligible, he’d be a human force who ideally is a creative and intelligent person, but do I want that in the making of this music or in any of the things that I’m involved with over the course of the six months?

BE: His influence is going to permeate your vision.

WO: Yeah, but still, you know every once in a while an opportunity comes up where I feel like this is not my dream but I can do something for the musicians I work with, I can do something for the record company I work with, I can do something for my parents, I can do something for my friends, whatever. So, it was one of those things where I was like: Ok, I’m going to try to do this because I know that this is something that does not, is not, going to come up many times, its going to come up and then go away. And also I had read the guys writing because he had come from The New York Times previously and I’d read his writing for a long time and liked his writing. But then he came down and, you know I really tried, and I just felt like it was just kind of devastating. Even, like I said, he was a nice, smart guy, but the experience was kind of devastating even just in the four days he was around.

BE: Was it kind of oppressive?

WO: It was kind of oppressive and, I like, also, I like to do things right, so that can be problematic. It means, if you have that tendency, you should only engage in the things you have the strength to commit to and that was not something that I necessarily had the strength or ability to commit to and I could feel it, you know, pulling things away from me that I needed, just for my own sanity if nothing else. So after what was to be his first of many trips to Kentucky and first of many trips to wherever activity was going on, I said that I needed to discontinue the process, and I sort of expected, not that I wanted this, but I sort of expected at that time that he would say: Well, this is about a tenth of the work I expected to put into this article, let’s just trash it. That’s what I expected, and like I said I didn’t necessarily want that, because at that point I’d raised the expectations and hopes of Drag City at the very least, and of this guy. But I was surprised some months later when we got contacted by The New Yorker saying they wanted to fact-check the story, and they are very intense fact-checkers and essentially they read or paraphrased the entire article to me over the phone so I could fact-check it, which was pretty great just in terms of a publication that takes that kind of responsibility, it was pretty cool. And I don’t believe they would have taken me as the end-all authority either, because I could have told them anything of course at that point. I think they double fact-checked numerous points. But I still… You know, I think he could have written a better article had I been more cooperative and he could have written a longer and more complex and interesting article if I had cooperated some more. So it had a kind of incompleteness to it, more like a snapshot than a real portrait I guess.

You know, any valuable state of intoxication or inebriation or transportation, it’s like, it is a kind of escape, but it’s value is knowing that it’s not a permanent escape, so it’s not really escape, it’s this departure or orbiting, you know?

BE: But I guess, doesn’t that itself kind of fit your whole public persona?

WO: Yeah, and I guess the reason is because that’s kind of what ends of happening. I can engage and give only to the making of the songs and making of the records and making of the shows, and outside of that, I fall short. It’s not for… You know, I would like to be able to do more, I would like to be a superhero.

BE: Well, there’s only so much you can do. It’s funny that you mentioned making your parents proud or doing something for them, because Jonathan Franzen, one the reasons he obliged to the Time cover last August after he’d written Freedom is because his dad was never a man of literature, but he recognized the names like Updike and Cheever because he would get his Time Magazine with them on the cover. So it’s kind of neat that you mentioned that.

WO: Yeah, its the kind of thing where there’s not much else I can do. I’m never going to be able to show them a diploma ever, I’m never going to be able to introduce them to my boss or show them my retirement plan or anything like that, but at the same time I want them to know that they are… I do feel like they instilled in me a work-ethic that is invaluable to me and other senses of morality and a way of dealing with the world that are valuable that, you know, its hard for them to understand without something…

BE: Some connection to what they know, to what they recognize.

WO: Exactly.

BE: Yeah, well I read the article, I think it was my third or fourth time, the other day and it mentioned the mushroom smuggling and what not. Drugs as escape or inspiration?

WO: Well, I feel like we can be inspired by escape. Yeah, never as escape, maybe as departure… I guess I always feel like; I know there will be a permanent departure, a permanent escape and so all of the… My dad took a lot of pictures when we were growing up and he said: Always take a picture with somebody in it, if you go to the Grand Canyon or if you go to the Empire State Building take a picture with somebody in it, because you can get a postcard of the Grand Canyon or the Empire State Building, but make the picture valuable to you, make the picture unique to your experience. But also something that’s not just for you, but that… Say, if I’m out there in my mind, whether its on a musical thing or an emotional thing or a sexual thing or a chemical thing, the peak part of the experience is how it relates to other things to me, and it’s the kind of thing where I’m thinking: I want to write a postcard from this state of mind back to a loved one or something like that, you know, this is great because of the way that it relates to the rest of my life, not because of it in and of itself, but because proportionate to other things or compared to other things or in direct relation to other things in my life, its awesome. And that includes, you know, any valuable state of intoxication or inebriation or transportation, it’s like, it is a kind of escape, but it’s value is knowing that it’s not a permanent escape, so it’s not really escape, it’s this departure or orbiting, you know?

BE: Could it also be viewed as a postcard to your stasis consciousness to your sober consciousness?

WO: For sure, for sure. You know the only thing to worry about there is getting too insular. I’ve always felt like, I’ve always been afraid of the figures in literature or when I see someone who is mentally ill in real life or in great pieces of literature, like Bronte- style. You know I always think like, that’s because… You know I can see why someone could get into that place, either by weakness or out of survival necessity. Sending too many postcards from me to me.

BE: Yeah, that’s funny you say survival necessity, because essentially that’s what I’ve come to think—and I’m not conservative at all—that’s almost what I’ve come to think of some types of mental illness as. You know: I can’t deal so I’m going to retreat to, or submit to, say OCD or panic disorders. Even though it’s terrifying, it in and of itself is a way of coping.

WO: Yeah, and it’s either because the equipment that some of us are given is not sufficient or because the circumstances that have been laid upon us are too extreme, or the training, support, education, and experiences that have shaped us are not enough, and the best place to go is inside.

BE: Yeah, and now I guess that we’ve labeled it it’s easier than ever to find a niche if you will in the mental illness categorization.

WO: And easy to find… You know there are times when, you know, I’ve never taken a prescription medication for the purpose of long term emotional modification, but at the same time I know there have been many times when I’ve taken recreational intoxicants and thought: Oh, this is a fix, this really works, this is a repair. And if someone were to say, and you feel it yourself, you know this is actually not a long-term solution. But if someone were to say, like a doctor or something: This is a long-term solution, this is ok. I could see saying: Alright this is great, you know I’m going to stick with this for a while.

BE: This is changing course once again, but I wrote this line in a poem (laughs) and I see I have written here that “as someone once said,” but that someone was me…

WO: (laughs)

BE: I wrote that art is created in a seclusion lovers only dilute. What do you think about that?

Bonnie Prince Billy on Fogged ClarityWO: I think that there… You know, that that can be true because with some people art can be a step towards completion in the same way that a relationship with another person can be a step towards completion, and there are very few people, I think, who can handle both, or need both. You know, it’s a great, you know, I think many great pieces of work come from the idea of wanting to see a concept or an idea or an emotion through, and sometimes the communion with another person is so significant that if you tried to make the same concept real, but you already had this sense of completion, you would have a diluted piece of work; which isn’t to say you couldn’t make a different piece of work, but the drive of a single solitary force is different from the drive of a united force or a satisfied force. But at the same time there are some in music, there are some united forces that are super powerful, like for example when Neil Hagerty and Jennifer Herrema were the Royal Trux or when Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash were a united front, they create a new individual that is not diluted by a lover or another, but it creates this insane double-wide (laughs).

BE: It’s furthered; the vision is fulfilled by the other person. But I also think that the relationship between art and artist is a form of intimacy and a form of communion, and perhaps those four hundred pound writers or poets or musicians find that intimacy within the work they create, perhaps with another part of their brain: the creative part.

Well, we’ve corresponded a little about Ray Kurzweil’s theory of Singularity, a concept that essentially states that most human beings will be inextricably linked to machines by the year 2045. I just wanted to discuss a bit about how Kurzweil’s assertion effects the individual and whether or not the concept of the individual with free will that we’ve spoken about so much tonight is in jeopardy given our swift evolution, especially in terms of the digital, in terms of technology.

WO: It seems like it’s in jeopardy… You know, using the term “jeopardy” implies a value system that you or I might have, but that the people who are now and in the future will very, very willingly… He seems to be writing even to the idea that this is something to look forward to, and that’s interesting and I think it’s kind of cool. But it’s not my frame of mind and I don’t think it will be, and in that way I am an outsider. But it’s obvious that people are embracing the idea of giving over more and more and more to artificial intelligence.

BE: There seems to be almost a sense of fanaticism in it, lying subtly beneath. I think that’s what scares me so much. And the people who are turning the wheels and pulling the levers… I have no say if there’s going to be an Ipod 300,000 you know. So I’m not in the discussion, I’m bringing nothing to the table, and am therefore just subject to whatever comes out.

WO: No, you don’t. But once again, we have this incredible equipment; our bodies and brains that are just not being utilized and it leaves people with a real sense of uselessness—purposelessness, directionlessness, uselessness—and you know melding with the machines is saying you know what: It’s ok to be useless, it’s not a bad thing, it’s ok, we’re going to get through this together. Its not saying: No you’re not useless. It’s actually saying: Yes, you are useless, your brain is relatively useless, your body is totally useless, but it’s ok and we’re going to work through this problem together. It is a problem, we’re going to work through it together, were going to have a lot of fun doing it, you know, come along on the ride, and everyone is like: Yeah, “thank God, ya know, thank God someone is saying something nice about this crazy feeling that I have. Because all it would take is for somebody to tell me something, tell me: You’re right, you are useless and I’d kill myself and I don’t wanna do that, I want it to be ok. And so they provide for us and say: We’re going to take care of this and all you have to do is sit back and upload yourself.

BE: Spot on.

WO: But I like the idea of the decomposition of my body, you know, to some extent I don’t mind the idea of the decomposition of my brain, although I won’t be aware if and when that happens of course, which is kind of a bummer. You know, since I was a kid I’ve always liked the post-apocalyptic sci-fi movies and identified with the sort of societies that exist when everything has gone a different direction. Not that I imagine that I could hold my own necessarily, I just think it sounds more fun to me. You know, I heard George Clinton on the radio last night say something like: Everything that is good is nasty. And you know, no matter how nasty three girls and a cup, two girls in a cup was, it wasn’t really that nasty because it was on a computer screen, and therefore it wasn’t that good, you know. If it was in the room with you, no matter what it is… It’s like, its better to smell your grandmother’s shit than it is to put her in a nursing home for example.

BE: You know I never thought of that, the excitement on behalf of the people advocating for technological progress and the fusion of A.I. with human beings, I never looked at it… That’s perfect, the excitement: “Oh here, here you go.” It’s a constant reaffirming of people’s doubts and even their own doubts in creating this stuff.

WO: Everything that our bodies and minds were created for, we’ve inadvertently, totally unintentionally, we’ve taken it away from ourselves so that we’ve become useless. Everything that your body is for, every bone, every ligament, every emotion that you have is created for certain purposes that no longer apply, and rather then giving up, they’ve created virtual uses for at least everything internal that you have, they wont create a virtual use for everything external. If there’s time left for our species there probably would be an evolution away from needing all of our little tendons and nerve endings and things like that.

With some people art can be a step towards completion in the same way that a relationship with another person can be a step towards completion, and there are very few people, I think, who can handle both, or need both.

BE: I don’t think the cohesion can be found, truly found, on anything but an organic level; the truth comes from within. That’s a fucking long lesson, but I feel as if it’s one I’ve learned. I’ve actually found, as I continue to grow and age, that I like spending time outside, particularly in the water, a lot more. I’ve gone swimming in Lake Michigan or Lake Huron nearly every day this summer and just played like a seal in the water, and I feel a wholeness, I feel a oneness, and it’s almost as if… It’s like absolution I guess, and it’s strange, but it’s true I walk out feeling cleansed psychologically as well as physically.

WO: It’s very true, yeah, it’s very true. But we have to accept that there are people who will, now or in the future, get that say from listening to a Justin Bieber song or a Bon Iver song or something like that and say like: Oh my God I never felt so clean before, I never felt so alive until I saw Justin Beiber play in Madison, Wisconsin. Or something like that, and it’s just like: No, no, wait a minute, No, no you don’t understand, and they’re like: No, no, I really do. And you have to say: Whoa they do, that’s their experience. But they are also the same people that would say: Eat a vegetable? Yeah, I mean probably at Thanksgiving I totally have, I have sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce.

BE: (Laughs) I’m thinking about that episode of The Office when Michael feeds Kevin the broccoli, stalk first. Do you remember that?

WO: No, I didn’t see that.

BE: You’re absolutely right (though), so I have to have a conviction that my sense of the emotion, and this might be selfish, is more substantive than the same evocation that comes from a Justin Beiber song or a candied yam at Thanksgiving.

WO: Or just have a sense that it’s, it’s our place. And our place may be… You know everybody’s place is going to be outside most prophecies, just because what we have in common with other individuals will always be the minority in terms of the world at large. But even in our own society to say: We are the exception that proves the rule, and the rule is proven ever harder because of my existence. Because I like to swim in Lake Michigan or Lake Superior for the real bracing cold and cleaner water, I like to swim in Lake Superior and it’s all the more important to me because it’s not important to other people or something like that, you know? Not that you are positioning yourself or that we would position ourselves outside of another group, but because you can sometimes only see the value of something in relation to other things, or just accept the role that some people are created as negative forces, some people are created as pariahs, some people are created as leaders and some people are created… You know, its part of the balance. You know my place in this world is going to be somebody who does not appreciate The Singularity. But there’s nothing I can do about it, it’s not a choice I’ve made, there’s nothing I can do about the fact….

BE: You can only affirm yourself.

WO: I can only affirm myself, yeah.

BE: You know, I’ve gotta talk to you about something real quick, I’ve been mind-fucking myself over it since yesterday. I met this old lady at the post office that I vaguely know, and she’s kind of senile, but I was like: Yeah, I’m going to Oregon. And we started talking politics and I told her how I was kind of disappointed in Obama and that I felt like he’d abandoned the platform that he advocated so hard, and she got upset with me and I go: Well, you know I could bring real change or something. And then I stumbled over the way I said it and then I thought: Dude you sound like an idiot… Because I’m always questioning my own… I don’t know, there’s still a creeping sense of doubt. And she goes: “You don’t even wanna go to Oregon,” and I mean I don’t even know how that made sense at all, but it fucking scared me and it’s in the back of my head. Its like: Of course I do, it’s in my fucking heart man, I’ve wanted to do this for a very long time and I just let those little fucking stumbles, those little things fuck me up, and I can’t do that anymore man, I can’t do that anymore.

WO: Yeah, I mean it’s good that you’re not proceeding blindly, it’s good that you’re listening to other people. You know, pretty much every good decision that I’ve made, I will make the good decision, I will get closer and closer to that decision, and usually the eleventh hour is, no matter how much I’ve prepared for it, how much I’ve thought about it, the eleventh hour that decision becomes the wrong decision one hundred percent, and its repulsive or frightening or its just wrong. And then it takes every bit of strength and inner-reassurance and turning around to say “No, you know, this is like a nightmare, a waking nightmare where you’re testing yourself, and the only way you can earn what you’ve always wanted to do is by breaking through this eleventh hour doubt and doing it.” Then you deserve it. And it’s whenever you’ve said, you know at the last minute like: “Ah fuck it, fuck it, I’m unprepared” or whatever; that’s the worst thing you can do to yourself.

BE: You know, I got a tattoo at two o’clock today right over my heart that just says: “Keep Going.” Because that’s the only answer I’ve fucking found for anything after twenty-seven years and a month, that’s the only answer I’ve ever found: Just keep going.

WO: Yeah, and, you know, I don’t think he wrote it, but a song that Willie Nelson plays a lot and Jerry Jeff Walker played is “Pick Up the Tempo.” They say, “Time will take care of itself, so just leave time alone.” Just the idea that there’s no reason to ever back off or to yield or to give in unless it is out of kindness or compassion or to gain perspective, but for the most part it’s like, to ever say or to ever pretend that, or take the role… It’s already taken, there’s one thing that’s taken in your life and that is that time will continue and then it will end. And if you ever say that you want that job, that’s retarded, you don’t need that job, that’s taken care of, everything else is up to you. Time will continue then it will end. There’s no reason for you to ever say: “I’m going to end something,” because everything will end anyway. You just, you continue, run alongside of time, run apace with time, rather than say: If I don’t do this time will stop or an end will never come or an end will come sooner. It’s like no, no, no, that’s got nothing to do with it. You just do your shit, march on.

BE: Yeah, hell yeah. Hey Will, I’ve got a great admiration for you as a thinker and a musician and thanks so much for taking the time tonight, I really, really appreciate it.

WO: I really appreciate it as well. I’m glad you gave me another call.

Will Oldham is a musician and actor living in Louisville, Kentucky. Since 1993, he has released over twenty albums as Palace Brothers, Palace Music, Palace Songs, and the pseudonym under which he has recorded for the past twelve years, Bonnie “Prince” Billy. As an actor, Oldham has appeared in the films Junebug, Wendy and Lucy, and Old Joy, among others.