Oakland’s Bill Baird just released an album of covers, Bill Sings Will, on Curly Cassettes. Bill shared some thoughts with me on creating the album:
I can never do things the easy way, though, so instead of just recording me strumming and singing (which might be purer in a sense, but my mood right now is wilder, woolier, and in search of strange colors), I set about re-framing the songs. You know, create a strange shape around a normal song. Shift the ground beneath its feet. See what that does to the song. Shift the context. See how much of a song’s essence lies in its chords and lyrics vs. the way it’s recorded / presented / arranged.
I recorded it over several months, including a couple all-night sessions at Estuary Studio in Austin, TX, where I’d been hired to produce a record for somebody else.
The other tunes I recorded on my own, on my tape machines. The tape runs the gamut of different styles but I guess it might show some more unguarded moments. I’m a big lover of traditional styles of music, even if that’s not always what I do myself. I like to think some of that filters through the work. And so this is a way of honoring some of my Texan forefathers (Willie Nelson, Bob Wills) and other folks who combined traditional songwriting form with modern weirdness (Will Oldham, Will Rigby).
I dunno, it’s weird. When I’m singing somebody else’s song, I sometimes have less inclination to muddle up my voice. I wanna keep it clear, even if the music’s swirling all around it.
Actually, thinking about the epic “Shotgun Willie” session, I realize that’s complete bullshit. I was singing into the vocal harmonizer that sounds kinda demonic. Not much clear about that.
I’ve been working hard on new recordings and this was a nice way to release the pressure, to keep things easy and light. To clear the air. To let everybody know I’m having a damn good time and I do heartily invite them to join me.
Baird also released a special video for his take on Bob Wills’ “Right or Wrong” in his distinct style, which you can see below, followed by the complete stream of Bill Sings Will.