Bill Callahan, Ga'an | Bottom Lounge | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Fri., June 19, 8 p.m. 2009
Price: $15
On the second track from his superb new album, Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle (Drag City), the man formerly known as Smog sings about dreaming the perfect song, scrawling down the words while half asleep, and then reading them in the morning: “Eid ma clack shaw / Zupoven del bah / Murteppy vin seener / Cofally rack daw.” Bill Callahan has cultivated a worldview sufficiently ambiguous and recondite that this bleak joke suggests hidden depths—you can almost believe he thinks those words really do add up to the perfect song. His tunes on the new record unfold slowly, as usual, led gently along by his weary but authoritative baritone; his happy songs are often kind of sad and vice versa, an instability he puts his finger on in “Rococo Zephyr,” singing, “Yeah, I used to be sort of blind / Now I can sort of see.” His lyrics have grown only a bit easier to parse over the years, but his music has made great leaps—Eagle’s melodies are elegant and accomplished, with the awkwardness of his earlier material refined into an unsteady grace. Brian Beattie, the brains behind the sadly neglected Austin band Glass Eye, wrote the album’s sparse, lovely string and horn arrangements, which shimmer and swell subtly as though reacting to the words falling from Callahan’s mouth. The songs are strong enough to do without this gilding entirely, but on this tour they won’t have to—Callahan’s four-piece backing band includes a violinist and a cellist. Ga’an opens. —Peter Margasak



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