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Episode 8: Will Oldham

Season 1, Ep. 8

In this episode I speak to one of my songwriting heroes, Will Oldham, A.K.A. Bonnie "Prince" Billy. From Louisville Kentucky, Will has over the past thirty years forged a highly distinctive path as one of the great American songwriters of his generation. Recording under various iterations of the name Palace from the early 1990s onwards, before settling on the BPB moniker in 1999, Will has honed a songwriting style drawing on country music, old world balladry and classic rock, always tempered with his uniquely lyrical voice. Along the way Will has collaborated with Johnny Cash, who covered his 1999 classic I See A Darkness, Tortoise, Matt Sweeney, Dawn McCarthy, David Berman and Bill Callahan among many others. Will has also been booed by Bjork fans at the Holywood Bowl, taken the cover shot for Slint's Spiderland and followed his original calling of acting in movies (Old Joy, Matewan), among much else. 


Will and I discuss among other things his relationship with social media and promotion in general, the three books he read that inspired him around the time he started writing songs, the five mixtapes of Scottish traditional folk ballads that set him on a path toward songwriting, how Will feels about streaming (with some very pointed words for Spotify and its subscribers), and the family circumstances which led to perhaps his most personal album, the self titled “Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy” (2015). We also discuss Will’s experience working with Disney, Moana vs Encanto, hunting Octopus, the time Will received a text informing him of an imminent nuclear attack, and why Will is especially looking forward to playing for Irish audiences again soon. 


If you've enjoyed this podcast please take a moment to leave a review or rating, I really appreciate it.


Show notes:


Will Oldham and Bill Callahan, Office Hours appearance (2022): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPwlApaMhRQ


Andrew Rinehart with Bonnie "Prince" Billy Friend of The Devil video (2022): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wM4Di68q-Pk


Hugh Nissenson The Tree of Life: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/406215


Nick Cave And The Ass Saw The Angel: https://www.nickcave.com/books/and-the-ass-saw-the-angel


BPB Mixtape Vol 1 (2019): https://bonnieprincebilly.bandcamp.com/album/bpb-mix-tape-volume-1


Bonnie "Prince" Billy LP (2015): https://bonnieprincebilly.bandcamp.com/album/bonnie-prince-billy


Will & Elsa Oldham Bad Actor (morning TV appearance 2018): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2vXfOOb6II


Louisville Academy of Music Presents Songwriting with Will Oldham (2020): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZDJoGn8LZg


Bonnie "Prince" Billy Squid Eye video (2019): https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=YcHwPZ0Jz6Y&list=PLPZeYMWvwYnCgNfvn28KI2Bg0Q66LekXb


Bonnie "Prince" Billy and David Berman Outsider (2022): https://bonnieprincebilly.bandcamp.com/track/outsider


Bonnie "Prince" Billy High & High & Mighty (2022 Cassette/CD): https://haha.institute


Bonnie "Prince" Billy September 2022 tour dates: https://pitchfork.com/news/bonnie-prince-billy-announces-summer-2022-tour/


And finally...


Neil's new album Things Keep Getting In The Way is out now: https://neilbrogan.bandcamp.com/album/things-keep-getting-in-the-way





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