III Gillian Welch & David Rawlings - The Godparents of The New Revivalists - Blake Berglund
Twenty years after the release of her debut album, Welch and David “I am an orphan, on God's highway / But I'll share my troubles if you go my way.” .. due to the ambiguity surrounding Welch and Rawlings' relationship. Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings now live in Nashville. . GILLIAN WELCH: ( Singing) I am an orphan on God's highway, but I'll share I have had friendships pure and golden, but the ties of kinship I have not known them. David Rawlings and Gillian Welch But what this comparison ignores is the unique relationship between Rawlings, Welch, and their music.
It was just T-Bone, the engineer, and Dave and myself. We got so inside our little world. There was very little distance between our singing and playing. The sound was very immediate. It was so light and small. Mark Deming of Allmusic called it a "superb debut" and wrote, "Welch's debts to artists of the past are obvious and clearly acknowledged, but there's a maturity, intelligence, and keen eye for detail in her songs you wouldn't expect from someone simply trying to ape the Carter Family.
God and Country Music: Gillian Welch’s Soul Journey | Nick Rynerson
Welch "just doesn't have the voice, eye, or way with words to bring her simulation off. Robert Wilonsky of the Dallas Observer observed that Welch "inhabits a role so completely, the fiction separating character and audience disappears". He wrote "Welch doesn't write folk songs; she writes folk songs about writing folk songs. Can you talk about working out your harmonies for songs like the one we just heard? Well, first of all, you've touched upon something. We are incredibly lucky that coming out of the kind of rural American duet tradition, which is mostly, you know, two men, we're so lucky Generally brothers, yeah, we are necessarily different than that.
- Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings: producing themselves
- Gillian Welch
- The Inimitable Rapport of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings
You know, we're never going to sound - nothing we do is ever going to sound like the Stanley Brothers or the Blue Sky Boys. It's necessarily going to be different, because we've got a woman singing lead and then a man singing baritone. Yeah, most of those groups all had the - the melody was on the bottom and the harmony was sung above.
And so when we started emulating that music, we had to sort of figure out a slightly different way to do it. And, you know, to this day we'll sit down and try to sing through pretty much any note you can think of and look for things that I think are interesting or that, you know, that tickle my ear.
And then once I found a little part that I'm committed to, sort of build on it on either side. And Dave's ear and his mind is so facile that he will run through many, many note choices. And he'll hit one and it'll have that special kind of little wiggle and little buzz. And both of us will look up and say, okay, that one. You know, there is one keeper note. And then we'll just keep going and he'll construct the part.
You know, I know a number of singers who call Dave their hands-down favorite harmony singer. I'm so red right now. I'm so glad this is radio. Gillian, is there note that you can think of, like a passage or note in that song or another song that gives you one of those, like, that's-it kind of moments, in terms of his harmony?
The entrance to the third verse.
Do you want an example? We don't need to get up. So do you want to show them what a normal person would do? It's all normal to me. What note, what word are we listening for in the line?
It's "On Calvary's Mountain. It's the first syllable. Singing On - yeah. So over the chords, that's a bit odd. It's like a suspension.
Not many people would open a verse that way. So we're listening to the entrance right now. Singing On Calvary's mountain, where they made him suffer so. All my sin was paid for a long, long, time ago. So there you go. My guests are Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. They'll play two more songs after a break. My guests are Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, songwriters and musicians. They're going to perform another song that's featured on their latest album "The Harrow and the Harvest.
Singing Take me and love me if you want me. Don't ever treat me unkind, 'cause I had that trouble already.
And it left me with a dark turn of mind. I see the bones in the river. And I feel the wind through the pine. And I hear the shadows a-calling to a girl with a dark turn of mind.
But oh, ain't the nighttime so lovely to see? Don't all the night birds sing sweetly?
God and Country Music: Gillian Welch’s Soul Journey
Singing You'll never know how happy I'll be when the sun's going down. And leave me if I'm feeling too lonely, full as the fruit on the vine. You know, some girls are bright as the morning, and some have a dark turn of mind. You know, some girls are bright as the morning, and some girls are blessed with a dark turn of mind. Would you be up for doing that? You want us to just pick the song? We'll do "White Rabbit. And why are you doing this? I've never been in there. Bob Moore was there that day — Elvis's bass player.
He just happened to stop by. I was really interested in [renting] it. I then found out that the Country Music Hall of Fame — who had been running a lot of tours through it and whatnot — were building the new Hall of Fame.
In the interim they were going to be too busy to do anything with RCA B. We approached them through a friend who was on their board and they said would it be all right if we brought our gear in and rented it on a monthly basis. They treated it as a donation to the new Hall of Fame, which was real nice. We rented it out for about 14 months. When we first got in there, I spent a month or two cleaning out the troughs and I fixed the plate reverbs. The place hadn't been used much as a professional space in quite a while.
It had not been a functioning studio. But they had a little bit of gear, like the plates? They had the plates in the other room and they had somebody doing some karaoke sessions out of the live room. The control room was basically empty. The speakers were still there.
Oh yeah, the old Altec s were still there, but they needed to be fixed. Is that what you monitored on? It was mainly [Yamaha] NSs and the Altecs. What we ended up bringing in was all the gear from the home studio — stuff that we've assembled over the years.
Our tape machine is a [Studer] A Is it or track? I actually bought the headstack before the machine. I found some unused track heads when I was buying some other gear, and I threw those in.
Then I found a track machine. Yeah, we started buying [Neve] s really early on. I bought a BCM frame and every time we went on tour I would come back and buy a couple more modules. I found some other s from the next console made, so the serial numbers were still pretty continuous.
We hadn't filled the frame for Revelator, but we had enough — we only needed four or five. It was the old Sesame Street board. So it had a Muppet vibe. I got this other old BCMstyle console made by Neve that has modules in it; they're the wide, black ones with three fixed bands.
They basically have a high, low and a mid — you can't select the frequency — and 10 dB steps. They are very unforgiving with transients; they really don't like anything barking. There is distortion all over our records because of those modules.
Does it squash the transients or distort? They break up in a weird tear-y way. If you hit them with the top of a vocal it will have a little "kkkrrrrrr" on it.
I would go through those, as well as the at line level to get five dB gradiation; as a buffer stage. I had some s that bypassed the fader, and those were the ones that I used before the tape machine. There are other setups: They end up perfectly out of phase and you just flip them. We were in there and we would have to break down every couple days 'cause they would run a tour, so we weren't able to leave the mics set up or anything.
It was a difficult process. With us, millimeters of difference in the mic setups are huge because the picture is so affected by overall phase between our four mics.
III-5. Gillian Welch & David Rawlings – The Godparents of The New Revivalists
Everything is pretty close together. How far apart are the two of you when recording? Two and a half feet. As close as can be. Some days we would set up, the phase would be great and everything would click in. Then a tour would come through and we would have to tear down. We got a little rug with everything spiked, but we would have to get within millimeters. That's the difference with this new record.
Since we were finally working in our own studio, we set up and we never touched the mics. So a lot of the same gear has made it from record to record? There are two tracks on Hell Among the Yearlings that we did at home on those same preamps. By then we also had the [Neumann] M 49s. That was the beginning of what I look at as that incarnation of duets, like "Miner's Refrain" and "Rock of Ages. You had 14 months to make Time The Revelator. However, it wasn't really 14 months because you were constantly interrupted?
We made that record in five weeks. Most of the album was probably created within three weeks, and then there was a little bit of time on either side. I also produced part of the first Old Crow Medicine Show record in that time period. We just happened to be renting the studio for that long.
Gillian Welch & David Rawlings: The Fresh Air Interview : NPR
That's about how long our records take. Is everything recorded live? Yeah, everything is live. It is pretty much all from takes one, two or three. This is the first record we've done that Stephen Marcussen [our mastering engineer] listened to and said, "Okay, Let's transfer it. Just transferred it from a machine of his that we really like, through the nice converters and a clean signal chain.
When you are two-feet away from each other there is no way you are going to punch in and fix a part. We have never done that. About half the songs on the album are complete takes.
Five of them are composites of adjacent takes. Edits on the 2-inch master tape? Yeah, I do a lot of 2-inch editing. I've always done that. Dave's really good at editing. I'd put him up against anybody at this point, because he's not even getting to cut on drums.