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Baker's Dozen

Psychedelic Meditation: Kurt Vile's Favourite Albums
Laurie Tuffrey , November 11th, 2015 13:13

As he starts the UK leg of touring b'lieve i'm goin down…, the Philadelphian singer-songwriter goes from live free jazz to dry-humoured piano sketches in picking 13 albums that steered the sound of his sixth album


Randy Newman - Good Old Boys
And then after that I got into Good Old Boys, which is a more refined thing, and at first I was like, no, I like Sail Away better, but Good Old Boys: he'll be singing like a love song, like a song like 'Marie', best love song ever, but then if you listen close, he's like, "I love you the first time I saw you, and I will always love you Marie". And then you realise, y'know, "I don't listen to a word you say, when you're in trouble I just turn away". You realise it's a love song from an asshole, a Southern asshole basically! There's another song on there, called 'Guilty', and that killed me. You've got to listen to the lyrics on that song. He starts out: "Yes, baby, I been drinking, and I shouldn't come by I know, but I found myself in trouble, and I had nowhere else to go", but then the production's amazing, it just kicks in with the drums and he's like: "Got some whisky from the barman, got some cocaine from a friend", and then it builds up and builds up, he's talking to his girlfriend. He's obviously a shit and he's shown up drunk at her doorway, and the punchline at the end is: "You know I just can't stand myself and it takes a whole lot of medicine for me to pretend that I'm somebody else." It's incredible!

He always mocked the singer-songwriter thing, even though he was inspired by it. I say that in his moments like 'Guilty' and 'Marie', he says it better than Bob Dylan or anybody, or even Neil Young; obviously they're still talented at being real, they're both clever, they can put you on psychedelically any time they want and say [their lyrics] mean something or not and give a very cool response - not too cool, they can just answer any way they want, just be immortal. But Randy Newman has the concise moment that hits you in the gut; sometimes, I think, he's nailed it better than Bob Dylan.

I totally think it's important to have humour in records. That's my personality anyway, but that's the best thing you can do, really. Because I was sometimes sad or melancholy, but I think the people that just ran that home, like in the grunge era, fucking like Smashing Pumpkins - I liked them when I was a kid - or even Eddie Vedder - no offence on them really, but at the same time they're victims of thinking there was this movement, like in the '70s, that there was this utopian dream that they'd change the world, like Crosby or something. But it's too one-sided after a while. Like fucking darkness in grunge - I don't know, no relief whatsoever? It's bullshit, it's too one-sided, it's not the way life is: life isn't that fucked, but it is. I just think that people, when they get too dramatic, it comes off like a bummer.