Bill Callahan & Bonnie “Prince” Billy – “Wish You Were Gay” (Billie Eilish Cover)
Bill Callahan has blessed us this year. All summer, every Monday, the artist formerly known as Smog released a new song, compiling them all into a stellar new collection called Gold Record once Labor Day rolled around. Then, without announcing or explaining himself, he’s spent the fall dropping weekly covers in tandem with his longtime Drag City label-mate Bonnie “Prince” Billy, aka Will Oldham, always with one other collaborator in the mix.
The esteemed pair have tackled Cat Stevens with AZITA, Hank Williams Jr. with Matt Sweeney, Dave Rich with Alasdair Roberts, and the Other Years with Matt Kinsey. And now we get to behold the splendor of a Bill x Billy x Billie convergence.
With an assist from Sean O’Hagan of the High Llamas, Callahan and Oldham have recorded a squiggly digital cover of “Wish You Were Gay” from Billie Eilish’s world-conquering 2019 debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? It’s perhaps the most playful of the covers so far, a shapeshifting and exploratory arrangement that makes good use of the various vocalists in play. Eilish’s lyrics are about wishing her unrequited crush’s indifference could be explained by a general disinterest in dating women, and these old white guys seem to take loopy pleasure in reciting them, even as they clearly have some reverence for Eilish too.