Monday, February 26, 2024

A Dialog With Jay Farrar (Son Volt)

As tribute albums go, Son Volt’s Day Of The Doug (Thirty Tigers/Transmit Sound) is about as near a labor of affection because it will get. An outsized legend in his residence state of Texas, Doug Sahm may use a bit of extra posthumous love elsewhere. Gone 24 years now, he’s finest recognized for a couple of late-’60s hits with the Sir Douglas Quintet and his Grammy-winning early-’90s work with Freddy Fender, Augie Meyers and Flaco Jimenez in Tex-Mex supergroup the Texas Tornadoes. He was additionally a baby prodigy on metal guitar, performing with the likes of Hank Williams and Faron Younger earlier than he’d reached his teenagers.

Sahm had already been by way of the music-industry ringer by the point he met up with Uncle Tupelo in Austin, Texas, within the spring of 1993 to commerce lead vocals with Jay Farrar on his personal “Give Again The Key To My Coronary heart.” Sahm grew to become considerably of a mentor to Farrar, who’s now returning the favor with Day Of The Doug. We checked in with Farrar to get extra particulars on Son Volt’s heartfelt celebration of a wildly versatile 50-year profession.

On the subject of Texas music, you might argue that every one roads result in Doug Sahm.
He’s woven into the material of Austin, Texas, for certain. He jumped round from Tex-Mex to nation to blues to R&B to ’60s pop to Cajun fiddle music. We acquired the concept for this undertaking by way of casual conversations with the fellows within the band. It’s simply one thing we speak about: Doug’s outdated information. I got here throughout this assortment of Doug’s stuff referred to as The Full Mercury Masters. The standard of the songs on there—a few of which I’d by no means heard earlier than—blew me away. We simply felt like this was the best time to do that undertaking.

Was your first introduction to Sahm on the Anodyne periods at Cedar Creek Studio in Austin?
Yeah. Our supervisor reached out to hometown heroes of kinds—Doug being considered one of them, Joe Ely the opposite. We did that tune with Doug, and it positively left a lifelong impression. “Give Again The Key To My Coronary heart” resonated with me. It had these nice lyrics about “a buddy named cocaine” that “has drained life out of your face.” Doug didn’t mince phrases, and I felt prefer it match with what we had been doing on the time.

What do you keep in mind about that day?
He was there in all probability two hours, tops. He simply blew in there, took a lot of the air out and left when the oxygen was gone. He positively introduced a variety of enthusiasm to the session. There was a degree when he was treating it nearly like a reside efficiency. He actually began moving into it, and he ran into the mic. I keep in mind it being the headstock of the guitar; another person stated it was his cowboy hat. No one may actually see how he did it, however the engineers had been pulling their hair out.

How did you go about deciding on the tracks for Day Of The Doug?
The stuff I used to be specializing in essentially the most was the ’60s pop stuff—that pop sensibility he had. I’m a sucker for that. He positively understood what it took to put in writing a fantastic tune.

What was your strategy to recording these songs?
We did it on the fly. It was simply 5 days tacked onto the start of a tour. It’s in all probability a nasty analogy, however one I’ll throw on the market anyway: A standard Son Volt recording is like carrying your skis up a mountain and snowboarding down. It’s each exhausting and exhilarating. Once you’re doing a tribute document, you get to take the ski raise after which ski down—so it’s all simply exhilarating. These songs had been like a template, and we had been simply including totally different colours and textures. 

Did Sahm ever really feel like he acquired his simply due?
He did get to undergo that complete Texas Tornadoes interval. He was on cloud 9 for that. I simply keep in mind him being actually enthusiastic and enthusiastic about these gigs. 

Inform us concerning the spoken segments that bookend the album.
Doug would usually present up at Son Volt gigs, and we’d do “Give Again The Key To My Coronary heart.” We’d run into one another across the nation occasionally—and that’s principally the muse of what you hear on that telephone message. Fortunately, I had a cassette participant that labored, and I dug it out. Now it has a house.

—Hobart Rowland

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