Editor’s note: In anticipation of Richard Buckner’s long-awaited Our Blood, out today (8/2) on Merge Records, I asked Buckner fan Jerry DeCicca of The Black Swans (a band that has shared the stage with Buckner) to say a few words about the man:
I’m submitting this text as my end of a barter: I received the new Richard Buckner album, Our Blood, several months before its release in exchange for typing about it for this “website.” Summation, however, isn’t really my bag and, for Buckner, I have no critical eye. Instead, I’ll state why I made this agreement and try not to gush much.
Long ago, in a pre-Internet world, I became a Buckner-head, tracked him cross-country whenever word spread of a show. The road was his home, so opportunity abound! Then, he was something of a folksinger, or maybe he just sounded like one because he played an acoustic guitar. Like Mark Eitzel, Vic Chestnutt, and Mark Linkous, he used language and a guitar in a way that made everyone else sound square and safe and dumb. He channeled Creeley and cummings and William Carlos Williams and Townes Van Zandt and the mountains. Every record released was an event. Collaborators ranged from Butch Hancock and Lloyd Maines to Calexico to Marc Ribot and Dave Schramm to a Canadian (future ex-wife) drummer.
Back then, people talked to one another about music. They left their homes, sometimes read books. It seems hard to believe that Buckner the musician would be born in this world of blogs and Twitterbrains that repeat and delete anything their comrades/co-hackers “publish” as temporarily relevant. His music is rarely immediate, always unpredictable, gentle and feral, and reminds me of musicians I love from the 60s and 70s because you sense that all music and art informs what noises he makes. I hear Tony Conrad and John Martyn in his newer songs and recent performances (can I say there are melodic leitmotifs?). Buckner is a big man in a world of little boys. As an artist, he’s a role model, though I doubt I’ll ever have as much guts to give as much to my music as he has his. It’s easy to meet other songwriters that agree with me about all of this. Oh, and his website used to have a homepage that said only (paraphrasing), “Go stare at the sun.” Love that guy.