Few things in narration strike me as much as well-constructed alternate history. Like the Amazon series ‘The Man in the High Castle,’ loosely based Philip K. Dick’s 1962 alternative WW2 history novel of the same name there’s just something interesting about taking the familiar into unfamiliar territory.
Two roots music legends are decided to take that same technique and apply it to two of the most infamous legends of the American West. The song, entitled “Billy The Kid and Geronimo,” has Alvin giving voice to Billy the Kid, a.k.a. William Bonney a.k.a. William Henry McCarty Jr., the young gunslinger that made his name by killing 21 people before being famously shot to death at the tender age of 21 by Sheriff Pat Garrett.
Gilmore, who is part Native American, voices Geronimo, the Chiricahua Apache chief who was one of the last Native American leaders to abandon his resistance against white colonization of the American Southwest, as the two undertake an imagined conversation of morality, injustice and their place in history.
‘Billy The Kid said, “We’re just the same.
We’re cursed and we’re damned as they whisper our names…”
Geronimo said, “No, We’re not the same, for the harm I have done, I feel great shame
But we’ll pay the same price for the blood on our hands”
The song appears on ‘Downey to Lubbock,’ the title refers to eacj=h of their hometowns.
Friends for over three decades, it took Alvin – the founder of seminal punk roots band The Blasters – and Gilmore, of the pioneering country-folk trio The Flatlanders and well-known for his role as the notorious line over-stepping Smokey from The Big Lebowski, until last year to collaborate.
About their relationship, Alvin told the L.A. Times – “I first met Jimmie probably 27 years ago — maybe more,” Alvin said. “Tom Russell had put together a songwriter-traveling-circus kind of show with Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale and Tom and me and Steve Young and Katy Moffatt. As we rolled along with picked up Lucinda Williams and some other folks.
“I’d heard of him, mentioned in a kind of whispered status, but when we met, I discovered he was a really nice guy and we kind of clicked,” Alvin said. ” There were certain complexities to him musically that took a while to figure out — like I knew he was influenced in many ways by blues stuff. A couple of years after that, I heard him pull out a Blind Lemon Jefferson number. There are not many people who do Blind Lemon.”
‘Downey to Lubbock’ will be released June 1st on Yep Roc records.
Hear “Billy The Kid and Geronimo.” below, see ‘Downey to Lubbock’ and check out Alvin and Gillmore’s tour schedule below.
Pre-order ‘Downey to Lubbock’ here.
‘Downey to Lubbock’ tracklist:
Downey To Lubbock
July, You’re A Woman
Buddy Brown’s Blues
Lawdy Miss Clawdy
Billy The Kid and Geronimo
Deportee – Plane Wreck At Los Gatos
Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore Tour Dates:
Friday, May 25 – Strawberry Music Festival, Grass Valley, CA
Friday, June 1 – The Heights Theater, Houston, TX
Saturday, June 2 – Antone’s, Austin, TX
Sunday, June 3 @ 7:00PM – The Kessler Theater, Dallas, TX
Thursday, June 7 – World Cafe Live Downstairs, Philadelphia, PA
Friday, June 8 – City Winery, New York, NY
Saturday, June 9 – Narrows Center for the Arts, Fall River, MA
Wednesday, June 13 – Ram’s Head on Stage, Annapolis, MD
Thursday, June 14 – Birchmere, Alexandria, VA
Saturday, June 16 – Shea Theatre, Turner Falls, MA
Sunday, June 17 – Clearwater Festival, Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Saturday, June 23 – Club Cafe, Pittsburgh, PA
Sunday, July 1 — Friday, July 6 – Omega Institute, Rhinebeck, NY