Bill Callahan & Bonnie “Prince” Billy – “I Love You” (Jerry Jeff Walker Cover) (Feat. David Pajo)
In the months since Bill Callahan came out with his album Gold Record, Callahan and his longtime friend and collaborator Will Oldham have had a new thing going on. Oldham, better known to most of us as Bonnie “Prince” Billy, have been covering a whole lot of songs, drawing from all around the musical map. For every one of those covers, they’ve worked with a guest artist, and they’ve been burning through the Drag City Records roster pretty quickly. (No Joanna Newsom yet, though. I wouldn’t hold my breath for that one.)
Callahan and Bonnie Billy have released seven covers thus far, and the most recent ones have been versions of songs by Billie Eilish, Steely Dan, and Callahan’s own old alter-ego Smog. Today, they make it eight. For their latest cover, Callahan and Bonnie Billy have paid tribute to Jerry Jeff Walker, the outlaw country great who died of throat cancer in October. The two artists have released their version of “I Love You,” a song from Walker’s 1975 album Ridin’ High. It includes this immaculately worded invitation to remain horizontal: “Getting out of bed just ruins my whole day/ Besides, that the way I heard babies are made.”
On their version, Callahan and Oldham stretch “I Love You” out to almost seven minutes, turning the song into something slightly misty and oblique. Oldham sings lead, and he really puts his whole chest into it. The cover version includes a tootling saxophone solo and assistance from David Pajo. Pajo, the Slint guitar hero who’s also done stints in Zwan and Interpol and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, comes from the same circles as Callahan and Oldham. He’s recorded a whole lot of music under different names, most notably Papa M. Check out the Callahan/Oldham/Pajo take on “I Love You” and the Walker original below.
All the Callahan/Bonnie Billy covers, “I Love You” included, are out now on Drag City.