Time’s the revelator.
It’s 1996. Probably 4 or 5 in the morning. Everything has been broken down and cleaned up; everyone has been showered and fed. We’re back on the bus and heading west on I-10. Sam and I are with our driver, how-do-you-feel Neil, and the three of us are taking turns DJing, mining Neil’s vast CD collection and throwing in some new stuff we’ve picked up along the way.
That’s the first time I heard “Barroom Girls,” by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. If you’re unfamiliar, make sure you go right now and listen to that song. There’s a certain singular grace in their collaboration, and just about anything they write can transport you, if you close your eyes, to a deserted highway moving through Texas or Louisiana or New Mexico.
On this night, though, we didn’t even have to close them, as the stars went all the way to the ground. I remember sitting in the jump seat, playing that track over and over.
When Thomas joined the band in 1998, we found common ground in our appreciation of Welch-Rawlings records and would often cover “Miss Ohio” and “Barroom Girls.” Sam and I quickly started leaning on Tommy to up our game during our late-night DJ sessions.
In 2008, Thomas and I did a short run of shows together, mostly through Tennessee and Kentucky. We worked up another Welch/Rawlings tune, which I think might be my favorite: “Revelator.” I’ve included a live version from that run below.
I remember how rooted I felt playing it that evening @ 12th and Porter in Nashville. There was a heckler that night, and it even shut him up.