Richard Buckner :: Bloomed (Merge Reissue)

The Black Swans' Jerry DeCicca returns to AD, this time looking back at Richard Buckner's debut long-player, Bloomed. Originally released in 1994, the remastered album was reissued earlier this month via Merge Records, also marking its first appearance on vinyl. DeCicca, in his own words, below, including his conversation with Buckner, after the jump. - AD

When I was 15, I bought a fake ID from a guy named Spike. It said my name was Thomas Buchanan because I wanted to sound tough. I didn’t smile in the picture. Its out-of-state-ness got me into Ohio clubs all the way to legal. I remember the last time a door guy called me “Tom” because it was the first time I saw Richard Buckner. A few weeks later, I saw Townes Van Zandt. It was a heavy summer.

Buckner’s first record, Bloomed, had just been released, but I hadn’t heard it yet. Back then, I’d go see anyone that wrote their own songs and lived somewhere I didn’t. Buckner was compelling on stage, his voice pretty and slurred, and I loved the way he made his acoustic guitar rattle. He talked a lot about his songs in a way I haven’t heard him do since. “Surprise, AZ”: inspired by a newspaper article about a mother and son that died in a car accident and their bodies were driven back home in boxes beside one another and this song was their imagined conversation. The other stories I don’t recall.

Within the next year I became a superfan, obsessed, and found ways to travel to see him wherever I could. Often times he was opening: Son Volt, Freakwater, Alejandro Escovedo, Kelly Willis. With each album, Buckner made everyone else that was doing what I wanted to do someday sound boring. Greg Brown once wrote a song called “Mose Allison Played Here” about a shithole club in Albuquerque. The last gig there, before it shut down, was The Dirty Three and Calexico. Afterwards, while people were trying to set fire to the walls, I bugged Joey Burns about Buckner. He sat me down in his rented Cadillac and we listened to a rough mix on cassette of Since (RB’s third album) that he then gave to me because he’s a nice person and I was a drunk kid that was annoying him because I couldn’t wait for its release.

Bloomed was originally released in 1995 by Dejadisc, a Texas label that housed other songwriters that believed in albums as art: Ray Wylie Hubbard, Michael Hall (now one of the best music writers in the country), Elliott Murphy, and others. It was produced by Lloyd Maines, a phenomenal pedal steel and guitar player that made Joe Ely and Terry Allen hum, among others. If you haven’t heard Bloomed, Merge is giving you another chance with bonus tracks (demos, live cuts), a greatly improved mastering from the other time it was reissued, and the album’s first vinyl edition.

Richard Buckner isn’t just my favorite guitar/words maker of the last 20 years, he’s my favorite record maker. All his albums, beginning with Bloomed, widen with listens and time. Buckner has never once tried to nudge commercialism or follow a trend. He creates his own world, uncompromising, creating within his means, and pushing boundaries of how we think about sound and song. He also avoids the silly and gross compass that guides most musicians: genre. He’s about the trip, not the destination. And everyone I’ve ever met that loves his music feels the same way.

This reissue has given me the opportunity to ask Richard some questions–things I wanted to know from a long time ago, things I thought then that may or may not be true. As usual, he knows better than to tell you too much. Our conversation, after the jump...

Only the good shit. Aquarium Drunkard is powered by its patrons. Keep the servers humming and help us continue doing it by pledging your support.

To continue reading, become a member or log in.