TRACK: A quintet from Bill Callahan with ‘The Mackenzies’: not a dry eye in the house

Bill Callahan, photographed by Hanly Banks Callahan

IT’S become a lovely little start-of-the-week tradition through the dead centre of this mournful summer: the Monday teasing of another new Bill Callahan track ahead of September’s Gold Record.

And today he brings a tale of “The Mackenzies”: the sweetness of the chance encounter with a neighbour never met after his car gives up the ghost. One of those moments of epiphany and bonding that you look back upon and realise life really can be sweet. They’re the good Samaritans who get the car fixed back up, offer dinner, a bed for the night … the sadness hits when you realise, like Stephen and Mr Bloom in James Joyce’s Ulysses, they’re somehow the father and son each other had never had.

It gets sadder: the room in which Bill reposes was that of the Mackenzies’ son: “There were photos on the wall / Of a boy, maybe 21 or so / Leaning against a brand-new Camaro / I could tell by his eyes that he had died / Some time ago.”

There’s no one quite like him, is there? Bill Callahan can fashion the simultaneous joy and sadness of life, the chance encounter, into cathartic Americana to die for.

Come the return of gigs – oh, come! This one is going to leave more than a few eye shining damp, cuffs wiping.

Click on the little Gold Record artwork box below to reveal the player.

Bill Callahan’s Gold Record is out via Drag City on September 4th; pre-order yours here.

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