Listening to Steve Gunn's music is an escape from the rush of daily life. The meandering, loosely tangled guitar lines that amble through Way Out Weather, his latest album, roll over the listener in a pleasant wash of reverb. Gunn's low drawl, too, suggests that he's perfectly content to unfurl his specific breed of lush Americana, folk, and rock at his own pace.
Gunn spoke to The Week via email about 1970s folk classics, obscure musical discoveries, and what he listens to on tour. Below, six songs that influenced him:
1. Norma Tanega, "A Street That Rhymes At 6 a.m."
"A camp councilor who lived in the Catskills in upstate New York made a record primarily for children in 1966. It's one of my most recent favorite discoveries. It's such a heartwarming record — her words are sweet and at the same time heavy, and her smile is reassuring."
2. Dion and the Wanderers, "All I Want To Do Is Live My Life"
"A friend gave me a CD burn of his stuff on this past tour, and it's now in heavy van rotation. Dion's album, Born to Be With You, from his later period in the '70s, is one of my favorites. It was made after he got clean, found god, and reconnected with Phil Spector. The Wanderers material seems to be when he was still pretty far gone, and it's pretty palpable in this song: 'Sit and watch the roaches climbing up the wall... and give my brain a bath in rubbing alcohol.' So good. This material was a huge influence on Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground. He gave the speech and Dion's induction the the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."
3. The Roches, "Hammond Song"
"This is one of my favorite songs of all time. The Roches were highly regarded vocalists in the '70s folk scene in New York City, and they went on to sing with many greats and record a few of their own proper albums. This song is by far my favorite of theirs, and it's a real gem. With Robert Fripp on production and lead guitar, you can't go wrong."
4. The Everly Brothers, "I Wonder If I Care As Much"
"This version of their song is from their later Roots album, their attempt to make a 70's rock record. This one of the best albums from that time in my opinion. This song was an old classic of theirs that became a hit in the early '60s. This version its marked with a different arrangement, psychedelic production, and killer lead guitar by Beau Brummells' Ron Elliot."
5. Broadcast, "I Found the F"
"I was a big Stereolab fan back in the '90s, and for some reason I never gave Broadcast a chance. Somehow their music has been following us around on this tour, and now I am hooked on it. This song in particular."
6. David Wiffen, "Driving Wheel"
"A perfect road trip song. I love this whole album, and this is my favorite song from it. A slow rolling groove, with a confident, smoky '70s voice telling it how it is. A perfect song for staring out of the window."
Way Out Weather is out now on Paradise of Bachelors.
(This interview was condensed and edited by Samantha Rollins.)
Watch the video for "Way Out Weather" below:
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