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KG via Guralnick on Marc Maron’s WTF / Paste Top 100 of 2015 / Thornton Dial

Thornton Dial, "Lookin' Up", ca. 1993. 5" x 7", mixed media on paper.

Thornton Dial, “Lookin’ Up”(self-portrait), ca. 1993. 6″ x 8″, mixed media on paper. Personal collection.

Hi folks,

I love a good surprise. On Marc Maron’s WTF podcast interview with author Peter Guralnick, which was posted today, Mr. Guralnick mentions yours truly, in a very complimentary fashion, about 74 minutes in. I’m stunned, flattered, and all that good stuff. Here’s a link:  It’s a great interview, and I’d say that even if I wasn’t talked about! I’m getting towards the end of Peter’s latest book, a biography of Sam Phillips, so to hear him talk about things from the book and beyond was a treat. Check it out.

My latest record, Long Gone Time, was featured in Geoffrey Himes‘s new essay about his 100 favorite releases from 2015, over at Again, I can’t ever quite believe it when these things happen; I’m not bragging, I’m just plain astounded.

The first time I met Thornton Dial, Sr., we were both standing on the sidewalk outside The Arts Company in downtown Nashville, where his work was being shown in town for the first time. It was April or May, 1998; a huge tornado had recently ripped through downtown then on into parts of east Nashville. I still remember looking up and seeing shards of mirrored glass hanging from buildings around where we stood. Mr. Dial asked me about my life, what I was up to–then talked about the “struggling tiger”, an archetypal image often found in his work of that period, representing (as far as I knew) the unique struggle that was and is African-American history and contemporary life. But he related it to me, and to the general human struggle that we all participate in as individuals. I don’t know if he was just being nice–I don’t think so. But it helped me understand that the origins of a symbol are its beginnings, not necessarily its static limitations. The tiger as heroic figure, for whoever is struggling. I’ll never forget his kindness, wit, and intelligence. I later ended up working at The Arts Company for three years, and stared at that small painting of his pictured here at top right for a long, long time. At some point I took the plunge and bought it.  A tiny piece compared to most of his work, it’s a rare self-portrait, titled “Lookin’ Up”. This past Monday, at his home in Alabama, Mr. Dial passed away. For more information on this great artist, try these sources:

We sure had a good time celebrating the work of another great artist, J.J. Cale, last night at the Wash. Kudos to bandleader Pete Finney for assembling such a whoop-ass house band, and for inviting me to come up and render a couple. The personal highlight of the night for me was hearing guitarist/songwriter/producer Mac Gayden play–he played the “wah-wah” slide guitar that’s on “Crazy Mama“, from Cale’s 1972 “Naturally” album.

Mac Gayden, Family Wash, 1/27/16

Mac Gayden, Family Wash, 1/27/16

Speaking of the Family Wash, I’ll be playing there tomorrow night (Friday, 1/29), starting about 9 pm with my longtime partners in crime: Ron Eoff, Paul Griffith, and Joe V. McMahan. Y’all join us if you’re in town–live and unrehearsed!

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