Just last week, Drag City legends Bill Callahan and Bonnie “Prince” Billy teamed up to cover Cat Stevens with an assist from AZITA. Bill and Billy are back today with another cover, this time a version of “OD’d In Denver” by legacy country star and disgraced Monday Night Football theme song guy Hank Williams Jr. There’s a guest on this track too, BPB maestro Will Oldham’s Superwolf partner Matt Sweeney, who is apparently the guitarist indie rock veterans call up when they want to get rootsy (see: his recent collabs with Stephen Malkmus and Kurt Vile).
This Williams cover, though, scales back on the original’s twang a bit. Furthermore, they’ve given the song an electronic pulse that, in combination with the noir country vibes, makes me think of Daughn Gibson. I wouldn’t mistake these guys’ voices for anyone else, though. A quote from Sweeney:
One of the many beautiful things about the original “OD’d In Denver” is the contrast between Hank Williams Junior’s effortless carefree vocal and the song’s bleak desperate words. So I thought I’d “chop it up” and make the song’s music “line up” with its lyrics by having minor key guitars percolate and arpeggiate, and singing an equally paranoid “guide melody.” Then Greg Sweeney laced in his drum and percussion elements at his studio in Hoboken. Hank’s version’s narrator thinks he’s gotten over his night in Denver — I wanted this WillBilly track to feel like we’re catching our singer deep in the fear spiral.
Mission accomplished! Also I wish I had thought of WillBilly. Hear the new “OD’d In Denver” cover below and wonder to yourself about how many more of these collaborative covers Callahan and Oldham have in the queue.
Remember a few months ago when Superwolf were teasing a new album?