One Little Song

“It’s probably the first song I’ve ever written about writing songs.”Gillian Welch (1277)

April the 14th (Part 1)

“[In the song April the 14th, she describes the doomed heroism of some rock ’n’ roll bands she met on tour and combines that story with the spooky coincidence that Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, the Titanic’s collision with the iceberg, and the greatest dust storm that America has ever known all occurred on the same date, April the 14th – Ed]. Well it starts with something I just observed. I was actually playing a gig in Eugene, Oregon at this funny little rock ’n’ roll club called John Henry’s – so another folk myth gets drawn in – and I played this show, it was kind of an early show and when my partner, David, and I got done there was a five band punk show setting up. Five bands were going to play between 9pm and 2am and it was a $2 cover charge for the entire night which meant each guy in each band was probably going home with about $3. It was about as realistic a rock ’n’ roll scene as you could get.”Gillian Welch (1277)

Everything Is Free

“I remember exactly where I was and what was going on. It was when Napster was starting to decimate the traditional recording industry dynamic, the viability of making your livelihood [from] your art. I had read some piece of news that had to do with Napster — that was the catalyst. I don’t want to pin it down and say the song was about Napster, it wasn’t. It’s about feeling like my personal creative independence was threatened. What I realized over the course of writing the song was that the power I retained was the threat of withholding. I hate those people who get on their high horse and say, “Art is pure. Do it anyway.” Of course I’m going to do it anyway, you jackass. But I’m not going to do it outside of my house. This is what I do. It’s what I’ve done since I was seven years old. But from the time I was seven until I was 18, I only performed my songs in my bedroom. It was only once I realized that I was going to have to get a job that I started to do it professionally. There were a number of songs I can remember crying while working on them, and that was the case with this one. I really thought that we were going through enough of a sea change that I felt inconsolable. I was like, “I can’t believe it. I got to this point. I’m a professional musician, and now I’m not going to be.” I really felt that threatened.”Gillian Welch (1302)