A Conversation with David Wilcox
Puremusic: I think this new record [Live Songs & Stories] is fantastic. I'm a longtime Wilcox fan, so I thought it really was about time that the spontaneous essence of your live show got captured.
David Wilcox: Yeah, thank you.
PM: It was interesting that the album was culled from several years of performances, something that people don't do often enough. You know, they'll say, "Well, we're playing three nights here at so and so, let's just take the best of that." Why not take the best of the last three years instead?
DW: Well, it's just that it's a lot of work sorting through everything and seeing how it goes together and all that. But boy, it was worth it to me. There were some inconsistencies in the ambient sound, and I was wondering how that would fit together, but it really turned out great.
PM: And you don't hear the different sizes of the rooms or any of that. I couldn't hear that at all.
DW: That's great.
PM: It's amazing.
DW: That's the marvels of digital mastering.
PM: Ahh. I know you really are, in the good sense of the word, a real freak on the sound.
PM: L. J. Booth said that when he was on tour with you, every night you'd take the utmost care with the room, trying to get the sound just as perfect as it could be.
PM: Another thing that acoustic guys don't take seriously enough. Well, we'll get to the sound of things as we move along.
I've been seeing you play since, I guess, what may be some of your early days, '89, '90, around the Bluebird in Nashville, before you started, really, a recording career in earnest. And regardless of how great I found you then, it's been remarkable to see your steady improvement.
DW: Thank you. I do feel blessed that I'm working at a craft that's so elusive that I can work at it for a lifetime and still feel like I'm just now beginning to know how to do what I do.
PM: Well, to me the part of it that you're really making huge strides in is -- the songs have always been really good, but now it's what you're saying that's really amazing. I saw your show at Kerrville, this past festival in May, and it was remarkable to see that, wow, these stories are every bit as important as the songs now. That's certainly how it felt to the audience. Is that how it feels to you, too?
DW: Oh, yeah. It's interesting, I realized that when I go to hear music, the memories I take home are probably mostly what people said. And even though I can listen to a lyric and get so much out of it the first time, when it comes to what I remember from hearing thirty songs in a whole night of music, I'll usually remember what people said more than what they sang. [laughs]
PM: Right, because it's more snapshotable.
DW: I don't know, but, yeah.
PM: And they didn't have time to work on it, they just stood up to the mic and said it.
PM: On the other hand, it seems that as spontaneous as you will be, you also will script some of the show so that it has a certain flow and a certain message.
DW: I love to figure out what I want to start with and what I want to end with, then let it be up to the crowd in terms of how we get there. I try to sense their energy and move with that. continue