Livin’ In Between – EP
Steve Gunn is back between records with another EP – this one a three-track covers set featuring a song each originally by Neil Young (Motion Pictures), Glenn Danzig (The Misfits’ Astro Zombies) and Michael Chapman (Among The Trees).
There are connections between Gunn and all three songs and the musicians that made them – but all three tunes form a perfect acoustic snapshot for your lockdown time; we’re all “livin’ in between” right now – that line of course from Neil’s Motion Pictures that opens this slim collection of songs.
Like Ol’ Neil, the Young Gunn has no doubt done his time already watching so many films in hotel rooms and his version of Motion Pictures is languid and lovely. He doesn’t need to do much to the song (originally written for Young’s then-partner, the actress Carrie Snodgress – his A Man Needs A Maid arrived ahead of their relationship but in service to her as muse; Motion Pictures would arrive as a final tribute). Gunn’s harmonica and acoustic guitar doesn’t carry the baggage of the original version and his voice is lovely and calm – it’s a real treat to hear this song excised from the relationship-grief that inspired it.
Astro Zombies is removed from its noisy punk context and turned into something resembling the songs from Bob Dylan’s café days – a lovely little finger-picked line sets up what feels like a new song altogether, until we hear about Astro Zombies raping the land and exterminating all in their path. It’s wry and tongue in cheek no doubt, but it’s also befitting of the lockdown/pandemic theme – and the time out that inspired the release of this ep.
Final song, Among The Trees, was in Gunn’s set on his recent tour – so a recorded version was bound to arrive in the enforced break from shows. Chapman is mentor and friend and inspiration and Gunn and he have a working relationship (with Steve producing a recent couple of albums and making a couple of cameos).
But again – you can line up the song and listen to it and look at the lyrics as part of a plea and paean to where we are now, to where we might be going, to how we should be doing it.
A charming set of songs, a brilliantly executed set of performances. And, as is so often the way with Gunn, there’s far more in this than might appear to be the case on first serve. This might only take 11 minutes of your time to skip through – but there’s a lot to take in, a lot to return to, a lot of listens and so much calm and calming to process. A great gift.
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