For our latest episode, we take a listen to one of my all time favorite musicians, the one and only Jim White. Jim’s a bit of an enigma. Categorized as Americana or alt country, Jim has a unique sound that defies an easy label. Once a professional model, for a time a New York City cab driver, Jim takes a unique approach to his song writing.
Picking an album to focus on was not easy, so I chose to go with the one that I have the most personal relationship with. Jim’s 1997 debut album, The Mysterious Tale of How I Shouted Wrong-Eyed Jesus. Besides being just a beautiful, haunting album, it has been a touchstone in my personal life, showing up unbidden at various points and serving as a waypoint as I clumsily navigate my way through the winding path that is my own life.
A few years back, my kids turned in a review of this album on a blog I kept called What the Kids Think.
When you’re a fan of a less than well known band or musician, you tend to develop a very special and personal relationship with the music. It’s easy to feel like it belongs to you, that you own it. Sometimes you get possessive of it. Jim White is one of those musicians. My brother in law is the only other person I know who is familiar with (and a huge fan of) his music. For the most part, at least in my travels, far too few people are aware of him.
I wish that wasn’t the case. I really wish Jim was a Top 40 artist. Because his music is incredible, and more people should hear it. I wish I lived in a world where I’d hear his songs on the radio and in the supermarket. Sadly, we don’t live in that world.
However, one of the really cool things about being a fan of a less than well known artist is occasionally you get to friend him or her on Facebook. Not their manager or publicist. The actual artist. And maybe, just maybe said artist will read your kids’ review of their album and have this to say:
“You throw your heart and soul into your work and hope that it touches people, offers comfort, or insight or catharsis. Then twenty years later these two kids review that debut record you made and they do such a fine job of getting to the heart of the matter that you feel vindicated for making a document of your dysfunctional apex.”
I don’t know if our discussion here will also get to the heart of the matter, but if I can turn one or two people on to this incredible artist, I will have done my job. Enjoy.