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Will Oldham on Bonnie "Prince" Billy Paperback – September 17, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (September 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393344339
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393344332
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #628,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Like Bob Dylan, Will Oldham is as famous for his elusiveness as for his work, a string of often-dark, sometimes-raunchy, always-rewarding indie-folk dispatches stretching back two decades. This quasimemoir from the man known as Bonnie “Prince” Billy is a meandering yet enthralling book-length interview conducted by longtime friend and fellow musician Alan Licht. Happily, it shares an important trait with the magical 2004 Bob Dylan tome Chronicles: Volume One: It illuminates its subject while preserving his mystique.” (Hank Shteamer - Time Out New York)

About the Author

Will Oldham is a singer-songwriter and actor. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

Alan Licht is a musician and author of the book Sound Art: Beyond Music Between Categories. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Timothy C Allison on October 7, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Will Oldham has a reputation for opting out of music industry promotional activities. He just doesn't do the promotional circuit for each release, with the obligatory interviews, television appearances, etc etc. That's why it was a bit of a shock to discover this title.

Alan Licht (a friend and sometimes collaborator) sat down with Oldham for a series of interviews over the course of a week. This book is the result of those interview sessions. It reads less like a typical industry hagiography or personality profile, and more like rambling conversations between friends. That's why it works.

Yes, the sort of information fans crave is in here: recording session information, discussion of song lyrics, influences, etc etc. But much of the fascinating material is the discussion that emerges at the margins: Oldham's idiosyncratic views on the music industry, art, film, and how to balance the demands of the commercial and the artistic.

This is probably not for the uninitiated. No effort is made to bring readers up to speed. There are no references to reviews or any attempts to contextualize Oldham's recording history. However, for those familiar with his catalog, it provides a fascinating glimpse into this idiosyncratic artist.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David Wheeler on December 20, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having been a Will Oldham fan for years, I was excited to hear about this book. Now that I'm just about done reading it, I can say that not only is it a fantastic read, but it's inspiring in many places. The behind-the-scenes discussions on how Bonnie records albums and writes songs is fascinating for any serious music fan. As for the layout, I was skeptical at first as I don't really enjoy reading Q and A interviews, but again, I was pleasantly surprised. Alan Licht did a great job putting this material together in a way that flows more like a story than an interview. Next to Dylan's Chronicles Volume 1, Will Oldham on Bonnie Prince Billy ranks right up there with the best writing on music and the creative arts.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By am1200 on October 16, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Absolutely great book for Bonnie 'Prince' Billy fans. This book is a "long form interview" that delves into every aspect of Will Oldham's career through acting and music. Chapters include discussions on touring, recording, his early beginnings and so on. It was a really satisfying read since i had so many questions. It's pleasantly impersonally personal but answered a lot of questions i had about his attitudes on musicians, actors, religion, his relationship to the audience, record labels etc. As a fan of many years, this was an extremely satisfying read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeff the Zombie on October 22, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Will Oldham on Bonnie "Prince" Billy is an exhaustive look into the life and creative process of an indie rock icon known for his aversion to interviews. And yet here is a book featuring 25 hours of interviews transcribed into print. The result is a look at Oldham's creative process, his development as an artist, and the in's and out's of many songs and records. Any fan seeking to learn what makes Oldham tick should be very happy to read this book. He talks at length about his association with the various members of influential band Slint, as well as details of the recording of Johnny Cash's cover of "I See a Darkness" and his staunch independence from major labels. After reading the book, I had a much better understanding of why Oldham has re-recorded and re-conceptualized his songs, including the recent upbeat version of "I See A Darkness" (along with the amusing video that went with it), even though that recording is not referenced directly in the book.

However, if you are not already a fan of Oldham's material with detailed knowledge of his long catalog of releases, you may find yourself lost in the weeds for much of the discussion. I only knew about half the songs referenced directly in the book, so while interesting, much of the conversation was lost on me.

Still, few artists open up with the honestly and candor that Oldham shows here. In many ways, the "legend" of Will Oldham is demystified and he's made human again. It's a far cry from the monstrously powerful sunglasses-wearing hipster king of Williamsburg as related in Jeffrey Lewis' "Will Oldham Williamsburg Horror Story." If pushing aside the myth was a goal of this book, then it can be deemed a rousing success.
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1 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Hotrodimus on January 17, 2013
Format: Paperback
Oldham is such a hilarious charlatan! I can't believe this is a real book. This guy's the modern equivalent of Tiny Tim or something. "Ah'm jus a COUNTRY BOY!"
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