This is essentially a cross-post from my tumblr Only Unity, a side project where I play with b-side images from my Serbia project and muse about the music I’m often listening to.
A couple of months ago my friend Michael Bowring showed me the documentary film Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus, where I was introduced to the wonderful musician Jim White. I’ve grown mildly obsessed with the film and the music it includes, and I’m sure to discuss it in-depth with an upcoming Dvafoto Book Club discussion that I’m working on with past contributor John Malsbary. For a taste, here is one of my favorite clips and favorite songs from the documentary where White introduces us to a small town in the American South and plays his song “Alabama Chrome”.
I want to treat you all to this tremendous twenty minute performance by Jim White on NPR Music’s series of “Tiny Desk Concerts”. It offers a beautiful introduction to White’s personality and his music, and he has a lot to say for life and creativity. NPR’s Bob Boilen introduces White with the note that he is truly a storyteller at heart. Maybe this is why I appreciate him so much. Here and in “Wrong-Eyed Jesus”, he sweeps me away and gives me chills with both his music and allegorical stories.
Jim White is a storyteller first and a musician second. It’s a kind of storytelling rooted in his own unusual history: He grew up in Florida in a deeply Pentecostal community and fell in love with the white gospel music he heard. But from there, White took a surprising path to becoming a full-time musician. He was a professional surfer, a boxer, a fashion model in Milan and a cab driver in New York City. White’s travels recently took him to Washington, D.C., where he stopped by the offices of NPR Music for this live performance. - NPR’s introduction to the performance
And if you want more, you really need to listen to this live performance and interview Jim White did at Seattle’s great independent radio station KEXP in 2005. He plays some amazing music and tells stories from the production of “Wrong-Eyed Jesus”. There are also free songs of White’s to download from the always-worthwhile Daytrotter Sessions website. I’m also happy to report that White just funded his latest album “Where It Hits You” via a Kickstarter campaign, which had I known about I would have contributed to (especially with the terrific rewards). Watch his presentation, it is the best kickstarter I’ve seen yet.
Also, I’m entirely aware that the ”Book Club’ has become more of a culture-media club, but I don’t care, I like the name. And I want this to feel a bit like a friendly discussion at the table over a bottle of rakija. So what do you think of Jim White, had you heard of him before? And have you seen the film?