Synopses & Reviews
The man who acts under the name Will Oldham and sings and composes under the name Bonnie "Prince" Billy has, over the past quarter-century, made an idiosyncratic journey through, and an indelible mark on, the worlds of indie rock and independent cinema. These conversations with longtime friend and associate Alan Licht probe his highly individualistic approach to music making and the music industry, one that cherishes intimacy, community, mystery, and spontaneity. Exploring Oldham's travels and artistic influences while discussing his experiences with such disparate figures as Johnny Cash, Bjork, James Earl Jones, and R. Kelly, the book conveys the brilliance that has captivated fans and made Oldham one of our most influential and beloved songsmiths. Oldham has declared this book his "last interview"--an essential guide to his life and career. Featuring a full discography, it offers the most in-depth look we may ever get of this fascinating cult figure.
"Overwrought, overwritten, and overanalyzed, musician and author Licht's (Sound Art: Beyond Music Between Categories) 400-page Q&A with musician and actor Will Oldham (aka Bonnie 'Prince' Billy) is proof that 'just because you can doesn't mean you should.' Conceived as an opportunity for Oldham to answer questions about his past work in a single volume so he wouldn't be bothered with them in future interviews, Licht's untethered, rambling discussion allows Oldham to dwell at length on whatever strikes his fancy, making for a humorless, plodding, solipsistic slog that will test the endurance of even the most devoted fan. Licht probes him on song lyrics, album covers, and the merits of working with a litany of musicians on each album, and while these and other topics are to be expected, Licht all too often lets the conversation get away from him. To wit: in the midst of a discussion about one of Oldham's first tours, Licht asks, 'Did you go camping as a kid?' This predilection for distraction and pretension makes for a wearying read. Fans will likely appreciate Oldham's thoughts on the hazards of songwriting in the first person, performing covers (like R. Kelly's 'The World's Greatest') and being covered (Johnny Cash covered Oldham's 'I See a Darkness'), and Licht's meticulous discography of Oldham's output under various guises, but casual listeners would be better served by donning headphones and hitting play. Illus. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A captivating and revelatory glimpse into the life of one of the most critically acclaimed and enigmatic musicians working today.
About the Author
Will Oldham is a singer-songwriter and actor. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky.Alan Licht is a musician and author of the book Sound Art: Beyond Music Between Categories. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.