Bill Callahan picks 10 surprising records that shaped, improved and formed him

The subtle folk of Bill Callahan has been with us since the 1990s. It is not an understatement to say that the American has written some of the most delightful songs in the history of music. With »Ytilaer« his new album has now been released. A good reason to ask him about 10 records that have shaped, improved and educated him.

Bill Callahan is one of those songwriters who always did his thing. Whether as Smog or as Bill Callahan, the artist born in Maryland in 1966 continuously released his version of quirky acoustic lofi folk in the early 1990s. Always in the list of references is the name Will Oldham. At the same time, Callahan possesses a very distinctive voice of his own. His sound, on the other hand, he developed over the years and decades.

The Lo-fi beginnings culminated in 1997 in the masterpiece »Red Apple Falls«, which set its arrangements quite precisely, sometimes with piano, sometimes with trumpet. (No wonder, Jim O’Rourke was on hand for the recording.) Everything slightly windy, everything melancholy, everything magical. More than 25 years have passed since then, and Callahan more or less retreated to a lofi sound with his subsequent albums.

With a richer arrangement and recorded with a whole band, Callahan’s next masterpiece followed in 2009: »Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle«. This time with more country influence and smoother production, but no less great. Since then, at the latest, Callahan has been one of the most important US songwriters of our time.

Everything slightly windy

After a collaborative record with Will Oldham and a slew of different features last year, »Ytilaer« marks his nineteenth studio album overall, released this fall – made to be listened to in one go, Callahan prefaces.

»It felt like it was necessary to wake people up – to awaken their love, their kindness, their anger, everything in them. To get their senses working again,« the songwriter said in advance. Six to seven different people are expected to sing on the album. In any case, the two advance singles, »Natural Information« and »Coyotes,« shake up love and homeliness above all else. (Despite slightly wry coyote symbolism.)

But what music did accompany the artistic path on the songwriter’s record player? For us, Bill Callahan has picked ten vinyl records that shaped and formed him – with some unexpected choices.

Ornette Coleman
Dancing In Your Head (1977)
Horizon Records • 1977 • from 19.99€

Bill Callahan: Eine Melodie, die endlos ist, und unendlich einnehmend.  Ich habe jahrelang in dieser Platte gelebt.

Last Exit
Last Exit
Enemy Records • 1986 •

Bill Callahan: Brutal, reinigend. Was für eine gottverdammte Band!

Myriam Gendron
Ma Delire
Not On Label • 2021 • from 24.99€

Bill Callahan: Wie der Morgentau auf dem Gras, ist diese Platte einfach da und vollkommen natürlich. Es wäre eine beängstigende Welt, wenn sie nicht da wäre.

Chuck Berry
Chuck (2017)
Decca • 2017 • from 30.99€

Bill Callahan: Seine letzte Platte. Unverbraucht und anrührend, frei und leicht. Wie eine Katze, die sich nach einem langen Nickerchen streckt.

Bowl Ethereal
Bowl Ethereal
Southern Lord • 2014 •

Bill Callahan: Eine komplette Langspielplatte komprimiert in einer 7inch. Der mächtige Pen Rollings am Schlagzeug und an den Edits. Gibt mir das Gefühl, dass alles möglich ist.

Kevin Drumm 
 Basic Combustion
Not On Label • 2019 •

Bill Callahan: Eingestimmt wie ein Vogel. Das Gehirn ist eine Kerze. Entzündet und schmelzend. Die Musik übernimmt die Führung.

Luke Stewart
Works For Upright Bass and Amplifier
Astral Spirits • 2018 •

Bill Callahan: Die Beziehung von einem Ding zum anderen ist hier in voller Ausprägung vorhanden. Ein Spaziergang auf einem Flughafenkorridor. Man möchte vor Begeisterung umfallen, aber man tut es nicht.

Junior Kimbrough
Most Things Haven't Worked Out
Fat Possum • 1997 •

Bill Callahan: Man kann die Hitze, den Schweiß auf dieser Platte spüren. Es gibt nichts zu beweisen.

Epic • 2022 • from 29.99€

Bill  Callahan: Eine Künstlerin, die alles verändert. Jeder große Sängerin muss auch wissen, wie man zuhört. Sie weiß, wie man zuhört.

Billie Eilish
Happier Than Ever
Darkroom/Interscope • 2021 • from 38.99€

Bill Callahan: Wir haben diese Künstlerin wirklich gebraucht! Rette uns, Billie.