She’s In The Trees are a Liverpool based band dealing in haunting, ethereal music. Their discography is fledgling but anyone who has an ear for music will see the talent within the band. Amy Scott-Samuel from She’s In the Trees joins us to write for our Why I Love column.
Here, Amy shares her love for Will Oldham a.k.a. Bonnie Prince Billy. You can find She’s In The Trees on Bandcamp here.
As a young thing, when I was around 13 or 14 years old, I used to tune into John Peel´s sessions on the old stereo in my bedroom. I´d stay up late and tape hours of his shows on random old cassette tapes, then would listen back to them during the days that followed, while sitting in my bedroom, dreaming of my intangible future, or whilst strolling through the streets of Liverpool, listening intently on my dad´s old Sony Walkman.
I remember one night a voice almost calling out to me from the stereo. It was a strange voice – one that I´d never heard anything like before and haven´t since. The voice was sweet and tender. It was a man´s voice and it sounded fragile and vulnerable and real – like it had nothing to hide. The voice was rootsy and somehow, of the earth. I imagined the man to be living in a ramshackle old wooden house, in some overgrown backwater rural American town. I felt an immediate warmth from the voice and a sort of connection to it.
Being a young teenager, I was at the stage in my life in which my sense of identity, self and other, was a forever changing and morphing thing. Who was I? Who was I in relation to others? Was I authentic? Were they authentic? Many of them certainly didn´t seem to be or even seem to care for such matters. But there was something about this voice – reassuring and kind – almost raw in its authenticity – that told me that there were genuine people out there who felt things deeply, just like me, and who even sung songs about them. Some years later I discovered that this had been the voice of Will Oldham AKA Bonnie Prince Billy. The song was, I Send My Love To You by the Palace Brothers – one of Will´s early monikers.
Fast forward a year or two, and I befriended a really interesting guy who was – in a way – not dissimilar to how I imagined Will Oldham to be. Unique, quirky and sensitive, he was an artist and a collector of weird and wonderful things that he´d often find in skips, alleyways or junk shops. He was a tinkerer, a dreamer and a creator. He had the best music collection of anyone I´d ever met and he regularly made me mix tapes that he´d spend hours putting together and I´d spend hours listening to. Amazingly, one day, while listening to one of his latest musical masterpieces – I suddenly heard THAT voice jump out at me. Those folksy, croaky yet dulcet tones crackled out to me from the cassette with words of love and longing, hope and desolation…
Suffice to say, during my teens and twenties, Will´s voice became a staple part of my life. Having him “around” felt grounding and consoling and his music gave me a welcomed space to be the sensitive and slightly weird person that I am. As a songwriter and singer myself, it goes without saying that Will´s songs have had a strong influence on my own songs, as have many other musicians who were big on the Alt Folk scene over the last twenty years – people like Joanna Newsom, Bill Callahan, Cat Power and David Berman. Like Will O, not only are they incredibly talented (RIP David Berman), but they also appear to be really genuine, earthy folk.
A few months back some old Will Oldham songs were kicking around my head – including the one that I´d heard all those years ago on the Peel sessions. So, I did a few recordings and put them up on Bandcamp. So here then is my ode to Will Oldham – thanks for being there all these years, Will.
Our thanks go to Amy of She’s In The Trees for her words on Bonnie Prince Billy. Check out The Changes Between Us below.