Golden Gunn is Steve Gunn and Hiss Golden Messenger (Merge Records).
This self-titled collaborative album was originally released as a limited Record Store Day title in 2013. This 2015 re-press is limited to 660 copies pressed on 140 gram silver vinyl with download card.
Golden Gunn: On Dickie Silk and the Hard Road Home
Have you heard? Dickie’s back in town after a mysterious nine year absence. You remember when you could predictably find his sweet old rig parked cockeyed outside Bloopers night after humid night, and Dickie at the end of the bar, shaking a bum leg and punching the jukebox (or your shoulder), between pulls on a cheap bottle and an Old Gold, between long hauls up and down the Eastern Seaboard? Those white-line feverish weeks are done and gone, and Mr. Dickie’s not looking right. These days he will not buy you a sweaty Michelob or a shrimp plate at quittin’ time. He will not shoot pool with you. In fact, you don’t want to hand him a cue for fear he might use it someways to hurt the guy looks at him sideways. Dickie’s quiet on the subject of his recent whereabouts (and, honestly, on most others too). He has an unsettling way now of staring hard at your worried forehead through his BluBlockers and gazing through you and into the mean, gunmetal center of what he lost, what he knows. While he used to, he doesn’t write songs anymore; now they write songs about him. It’s clear he’s been to the death house.
Dear listener, who, you may ask, is Dickie Silk? The guru and mascot of Golden Gunn, who inhabits these lapidary and occasionally lascivious grooves, Dickie Silk is an inimitable specter, a full-hearted but road-damaged truck-drivin’ man, a sad latter-day Stagger Lee, who dwells along the long distances these nine songs travel. This is a highway record, inspired by a chance meeting at a Slip-In station on a country byway off I-85 in Emporia, Virginia, near the North Carolina border. As such, it exists in the bleary-eyed distances between places, between players, and it is all the more compelling for its lostness and lacunae.
In September 2012, songwriter and singer M.C. Taylor of Durham, North Carolina; multi-instrumentalist and recordist Scott Hirsch of Brooklyn, New York (who together helm Hiss Golden Messenger) and accomplished New York-based guitarist and songwriter Steve Gunn (recognized for his solo prowess as well as his work with both the Gunn-Truscinski Duo and GHQ), were motorvating from Raleigh to Monkton, Maryland, when they encountered Dickie. He needed an extra thirty cents and a ride as the transmission on his yellow Pontiac was gutted. He rode shotgun and told the boys his story.
Originally engaged as a fanciful and casual collaboration between Hiss Golden Messenger and Steve Gunn, under the newfound artistic direction of Mr. Silk, Golden Gunn instead gradually developed into something more singular, evocative, and visionary. Trading loose concepts and recordings back and forth across state and Mason-Dixon lines, Taylor, Hirsch, and Gunn conjured these tunes in response to the rhythm tracks Dickie programmed on his antique drum machine. When they could reach him, Dickie weighed in with elliptical comments and encouragement but his flip phone was always breaking, and by the time they were ready for mixdown, he was reportedly in Malaysia. Formally speaking, the largely instrumental album includes some new selections and confections from each of the players which were then transformed through the amber BluBlockers of Dickie Silk and honed into an altogether stranger collaborative session vibe, copping feels from Silk favorites like J.J. Cale, Waylon Jennings, Boz Scaggs, and the Average White Band. Featuring additional contributions from Terry Lonergan on drums, Abigail Martin on flute, and Nora Rogers on mountain dulcimer, the resulting rig maps the scary wrong side of the country-funk tracks, exploring the odd, compass-busting entanglement of plodding old drum machines and sinuous, simmering guitars and synths.
Dickie’s been gone, but now he’s back in town. You better listen, and watch. It’s dark out on the road tonight, and hot as hell.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina - January 2013