Headless Corpses, Stolen Laptops, and Lawyer-shaped Guns.
July 26, 2011 9:18 AM   Subscribe

What has Richard Buckner been up to, since 2006's Meadow?

He worked on a Con Ed road crew in the Catskills; had a job driving a forklift; he worked with autistic children. Then there was the score to a film that "never happened", a little "brush with the law over a headless corpse in a burned-out car", a broken hard disc recorder, then his laptop containing all the work so far was stolen.

After all that, his latest record, Our Blood, is currently streamable via NPR.

more samples of his work:

Ed's Song
Born into giving it up

Put on what you wanna
A Chance Counsel

covering Joy Division
and Townes Van Zandt.
Song of 27 plus
Remember (with Patty Griffin, from the "Dream Boy" soundtrack
posted by dubold (31 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
It's criminal Buck hasn't had larger success, he's an amazing talent. Bloomed is one of my favorite albums of the 90s.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:30 AM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yes!!! Great to see RB on the blue. Incredible artist. His album Since changed my life. Hope he gets an NPR bump.
posted by jmccw at 9:35 AM on July 26, 2011

He is utterly brilliant and I'm so happy to have him back. I selfishly wish he'd only stop releasing 29-minute-long albums.
posted by mykescipark at 9:58 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is wonderful. I discovered Buckner when "Ariel Ramirez" was featured on a VW commercial years ago. Rediscovered him a few years ago at a strange time in my life and have been grateful ever since. Excited to listen!
posted by Polyhymnia at 10:17 AM on July 26, 2011

Richard Buckner is literally my favorite artist of all time. I don't know who I'd be without his music.

There have been times that Since is the only thing I can listen to that makes sense. From the opening rumble of "Believer" to the closing strains of "Once," it's a masterful album. I got to work with Eric Heywood, the pedal steel player on that album for a few tours - it was all I could do to not ask him constantly about working with Buckner. I had been listening to Impasse a lot lately. "Bloomed" is the third-greatest breakup album of all time (after Blood on the Tracks and Greg Brown's Further In), and even though I'm in a great place now, it still sticks with me. He's my Townes Van Zant. He's my own personal Dylan.

A few weekends ago, I went down to Iowa City, the scene of a lot of the crimes and passions of my youth. Every street in that little quiet college town has a Richard Buckner song attached to it. My ex-girlfriend and I used to lay in bed and listen to "Blue and Wonder" and "Daisy Chain" over and over again. I called her "Thunderhead." The pedal steel part on "Rainsquall" still makes me think of getting in a fight with her on Gilbert Street. After I moved to the Twin Cities, I couldn't listen to Devotion and Doubt for a while because it was just too much of an Iowa City album for me. It made me homesick.

My wife and I stumbled around our old home town and finally made our way into our old bar (George's, if you're a townie). I struggled up to the bar through the crowd of poets and drunks (it was Iowa City, after all, and there was a writers' conference in town) - there's my ex. Sitting at the same bar where I last saw her. After the initial shock wore off, she told me that Buckner's got a new album coming out. He'll be in the Cities for a concert on the 31st and am I going?

In other words, post is timely and relevant to my interests. Thank you.
posted by elmer benson at 10:27 AM on July 26, 2011 [12 favorites]

Oh, boy, thanks for this. Big fan. I spent a weekend in 2000 with his albums up to that date on shuffle in the multidisk player. D+D is fantastic, and Since so fully puts me back in the place I was when first heard it, I have to be careful with myself (weird times).

After one show in 1999 or 2000, Buckner walked right up to me after the show and asked if I had any weed. No "hello" or nothing. And mind you, I pretty much look like The Man. Another show, more recent, while Fred Friction banged away on spoons and guitar as an (awesome to see him out playing) opening act, Buck and I spent a beer's time in conversation about the old Fred's Music Lounge and performance unto itself. Great guy, helluva thinker, gentle soul.
posted by notsnot at 10:29 AM on July 26, 2011

Yes!!! Great to see RB on the blue. Incredible artist. His album Since changed my life. Hope he gets an NPR bump.

This the third time I've seen someone post that NPR link, so I hope so! He has a lot of great stuff, but Since, yeah ...

"How did I ever wake up from that MUNI-island night,
Up the hill and through the town
I just slipped away somehow"

Perhaps those of you not in the US can listen to it. (preview)

I caught Richard Buckner and Damien Jurado a few years back at the Great American Music Hall. Great stuff.

Ariel Ramirez
posted by mrgrimm at 10:31 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Most of the comments til now have mentioned that his stuff touched/troubled them deeply at a strange moment in their life. I don't think that is mere serendipity: his music tilts the brains of some people. It is nice to see that I am not alone. The depressing question now is whether I am at a place in my life where I am open to that sort of thing. Depressing because I think I know the answer.
posted by jmccw at 10:40 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've seen him 3 times (I think 3. Maybe 4?) at a little club outside of DC called, aptly, IOTA. I've always been right up close to the front, and he's always killed, often transitioning from one song to the next without a pause, using neato loops to lay down a track, then switching guitars (or even to a keyboard), using an e-bow. Usually just him, though he's been accompanied once. Sat down at the bar next to him before a show once, but was too intimidated to buy him a drink.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:45 AM on July 26, 2011

Oh, look, he's going to be there on Thursday, August 25.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:46 AM on July 26, 2011

jmccw, the uplifting thing is that Buckner (along with some others) was an instrumental part of getting me out of that place. I needed music to fit the time so that I could acknowledge the strangeness and move through it. That's how music works for me, hopefully it can work for you too?
posted by Polyhymnia at 10:47 AM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Loaded @ The Wrong Door fills me with a sad joy. Great post, thanks.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:52 AM on July 26, 2011

posted by MrMoonPie at 10:54 AM on July 26, 2011

I hope he and David Kilgour do some Canadian dates, I would love to see him play again.

I remember getting intimate with a sweet little red head in a gauzy dress while listening to "Gauzy dress in the sun". She later became Mrs Bathbone, so good things do come from his songs.

"Damn that stretch of 99 / It takes so many lives"
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 10:56 AM on July 26, 2011

Oh, how wonderful! I only knew Buckner from his contribution to a 2002 Kris Kristofferson tribute album (Lovin' Her Was Easier) and his duet with Neko Case and the Band of Blacky Ranchette (Getting It Made—both songs are pretty fantastic), and I'd always meant to get better acquainted with his work. Thanks so much! That song with Patty Griffin is particularly lovely.
posted by wreckingball at 11:00 AM on July 26, 2011

Roughly 10-12 years ago a friend and I were walking around Birmingham wheatpasting and stapling flyers for some random punk show we were either playing or promoting when I bemoaned the regrettable trend of sensitive white boys and their acoustic guitar ending up on every other show. What dashboard confessional wrought, you might say. My friend mentioned Buckner being the closest thing (and still very far away) to that whole world he could stand, and he gave me copies of Since and Devotion + Doubt.

There have been a few albums that were instantly and forever important to me (still to this day) like Avail's 4AM Friday and The Weakerthans Left and Leaving; those two RB albums were also locked in like that.
Okay, so you're gonna ask her when you're upstairs later
on, w/ her eyes bowing down and your last light gone,
right? You looked up to her window from the backyard
dusk; hired as a shot, lingered as a crush. "Stake me
when I'm running & I'll stay down. See, I've only had a
photograph to drag around."
Hell, the only two tattoos I ever got are art panels from the liner notes to The Hill, as I also love the Spoon River Anthology.
posted by ndfine at 11:01 AM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

So, does anyone think the current promo picture Buckner's using looks like your mental image of the guy in the Tom Russell/Dave Alvin song "Blue Wing"?
posted by notsnot at 11:01 AM on July 26, 2011

Damnit--meant to say IRLed.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:10 AM on July 26, 2011

Great post, thanks! I've always liked the bits of Buckner I've heard, but he's long been on that list of People I Should Really Get Around to Listening to More . . . Right After These Other 12 Records. You've provided a nice entry point for lazybones such as myself.
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:34 AM on July 26, 2011

Richard Buckner is the definition of an Original.
posted by incandissonance at 12:08 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I saw Buckner open for Sun Volt at the old 9:30 club in DC. I don't think I'd ever been so blown away by an opening act (or any act for that matter). I bought a copy of Bloomed from him after the show and have been a big fan ever since. Downloading Meadow now (he's been off my radar for a while), really looking forward to Our Blood. Thanks for the post!
posted by slogger at 12:18 PM on July 26, 2011

Back in the early-mid '90s, I was dating a guy who knew a lot of people in San Francisco's music scene. One weekend, we were invited to a barbeque/wedding reception for a friend's sister (I think her name was Eloise) in Noe Valley.

My mind was preoccupied with other things (a creepy stalkerish ex-boyfriend was in town and kept calling me), so I wasn't all that enthusiastic about mingling, other than having an opportunity to drink and smoke enough weed to take my mind off my troubles.

I did, however, take note of the house. It was shambling old house, it's front yard enclosed by cyclone fencing. It stuck out like a sore thumb on a street full of well tended, restored victorians. The decor was charmingly odd - a massive pickled egg jar full of human teeth, the mailbox with teeth glued to the slot, and what seemed like the entire contents of a 1940's novelty joke shop on every available surface.

The bride & groom were wearing matching yellow plaid shirts with, if I remember correctly, mint green slacks. I was immediately struck by how massive the groom was - well over 6 feet tall and built like a lumberjack. He seemed nice enough, if a little introverted and quite possibly very, very stoned.

At the time, the only thing about the party that seemed noteworthy was the fact that Penelope Houston was amongst a group of people who were sledding down the ivy covered hill across the street on flattened cardboard boxes. That, and everyone helping themselves to teeth from the massive pickle jar.

Fast forward a few years. My radio alarm clock was always tuned to KUSf and one morning I woke to the most compelling song I had heard in a long time. Instead of hitting the snooze button, I struggled to stay awake long enough to find out who the artist was. Richard Buckner.

Immediately smitten by the sheer awesomeness of the song I heard, I went to Amoeba soon after to buy up everything of his that I could. I found his stuff in the used section and as I was looking at the back cover of Bloomed I found something startling - a picture of the bride and groom from that long ago barbeque. A picture of the toothy mailbox and the chain link fence & gate. Damnit, I had been at Richard Buckner's wedding reception! If I had only known, I'd have made more of an effort to talk with him.
posted by echolalia67 at 12:39 PM on July 26, 2011 [13 favorites]

I saw Richard Buckner play a few years ago, at a little cafe/bar. The odd thing is that the promoter came out beforehand and instructed the audience to be completely silent throughout the set, since Buckner was apparently super-sensitive to audience noise. I loved his music, but I've been a little weirded out by the guy ever since.
posted by Pants McCracky at 12:43 PM on July 26, 2011

It's 4 AM and I'm awake again
And not quite high enough
I'll be back, you know when
Should I lie a little and dream away
I'm just lying here anyway
posted by yarly at 1:25 PM on July 26, 2011

I should have known -- MetaFilter once again comes through, tons of Buckner fans. He's so goddamn great. Devotion and Doubt and Bloomed, those CDs were soundtrack of a lot of my life for a few years there; I still love them so. Heavy Lloyd Maiines presence on both of those CDs, which is A Good Thing in my world. Meadow also, and Since, but just different times in my life, neither Since or Meadow cut as deeply into me as Devotion and Doubt and Bloomed.

Pants McCracky: "The odd thing is that the promoter came out beforehand and instructed the audience to be completely silent throughout the set, since Buckner was apparently super-sensitive to audience noise."
I can't stand going to shows that aren't in listening rooms, not for this type of music anyway. In fact I won't go, it's not worth it. House concerts are respectful, and there's a few venues here and there that are this way also, where it's about the music and not about playing a video game or shooting someone a text about how you're at a show or talking to your date or whatever. Once at a show at Anderson Fair, in Houston, the performer stopped the show and told some guy that obviously what he was saying was more important than the music, and that he'd hold the show until after the guy finished his little conversation -- it was great! Applause and/or cheers are great but can hold till after the song. I'm not talking rock shows or blues shows or dance clubs but rather this sort of music, with so much of the emotion that can so easily get lost to distraction.
posted by dancestoblue at 2:32 PM on July 26, 2011

"The odd thing is that the promoter came out beforehand and instructed the audience to be completely silent throughout the set, since Buckner was apparently super-sensitive to audience noise."

I remember something being said or on the tickets at the GAMH, but it was also a dinner show, so they had seats set up. At mid to small venues (sub 1,000), it doesn't seem like a problem, generally.

The nature of the music and fans of that music made it generally respectful.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:39 PM on July 26, 2011

I first sw Buckner open for Son Volt in 1996 (1997?). He walked onstage and said (if memory serves) "You don't have to pay attention, I'm only the opening act." and he then proceeded to blow me away. I must have bought at least five copies of "The Hill" to give away and I've quoted his songs more than I care to admit over the ensuing years. His mastery of the couplet has always made me point writers and pets to his lyrics and even though I haven't seen him live since that initial show, I will more than gladly sit quietly in the audience if he comes anywhere near me and I'll buy him a beer after. I owe the man that much, at least.

"Pretty destroyed/Coming through/Seizure spin/Around the room" That's knife blade sharp writing, that.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 5:58 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

I've been wondering what he's been up to! He's my favorite anything ever. I don't even have words to describe how his music affects me. I should have known there would be a bunch of MeFites who feel the same.
posted by 912 Greens at 6:04 PM on July 26, 2011

Excellent. Saw him and briefly met him as the opener to David Grubbs in Saskatoon, of all places. Instant lifelong fan.
posted by converge at 12:23 AM on July 27, 2011

I adore him.
posted by at the crossroads at 5:43 PM on July 27, 2011

Any Seattleites planning to go to the Triple Door show on 8/20? I just got tickets.
posted by librarina at 12:08 PM on July 29, 2011

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