“What I’d give for that hat to be medicine.”
To me, that is the quintessential Jay Farrar lyric. It’s poetic. It’s direct. It’s something that could mean anything.
It requires thought.
Farrar’s words will do that to you. What they don’t mean is as important as what they might mean. They favor whiskey bottles over Jesus. They are the search, not the find. They take your troubles away.
And I am pretty much in love with all of Farrar’s work, whether it is his solo ventures or any of the albums he’s recorded with Son Volt. Like many, I was first hooked when I heard “Windfall” off Trace for the first time. If there is a better song to play on a breezy day while you’re zipping down a back road, I haven’t found it yet. It’s bliss, I tell you.
But, there are so many songs that Farrar has penned that lie under the radar. Just the other day, I was listening to “Left a Slide” off Straightaways, and I had to press repeat on my iPod four or five times. The slow-burning tune doesn’t hit you right away, but when it does, you discover the beauty of Farrar’s music. His songs are patient, so much that they require ultimate focus from the listener. If you’re in a hurry, you might as well save them for another day.
I guess you could say that is when you know you are listening to a great songwriter—when you don’t feel rushed as a listener. While I may not always understand what message Farrar is trying to get across, I always feel he is taking his time with his words and melodies. Music is so easier to dissect that way; I don’t need it all in a verse or in the chorus. Give it to me line by line, song by song, album by album. In other words, like the great John Wooden told us, “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”
Living in the moment is something I strive to do each and every day. While I lose sight of that belief from time to time, I do know what I love, and that is something for which I am thankful. As Jay Farrar sings on the closing track of Son Volt’s Okemah and the Melody of Riot, “The world waits for you.” Music, like life, is an experience, and you’re always on the clock. We’re all waiting for greatness to hit us, to stare us straight in the eye, to make us feel alive.
Not always forever. Sometimes, just for now.
Tour Dates: http://jayfarrar.net/tour/main.htm
Album Discography: http://jayfarrar.net/discs/index.htm
He Said It: “I guess, more recently, I have turned to different methods of writing – a song like “Cocaine and Ashes” and probably, especially, “Sultana,” where “Sultana” is more of a historical narrative type song. In the past, and still now, the predominant mode for me is more of a stream of consciousness style. It’s working backwards where I’m feeling out ideas and making a structure out of that, as opposed to a song like “Sultana” where I started with a theme or concept and built the song around that.”