Buck Meek - (Of Big Thief) Glasgow Show

& Germaine Dunes

SUNDAY 27TH AUGUST 2023

doors 7.00 pm - 10.00 pm

£16.00

Buck Meek - Haunted Mountain
Buck Meek says that love songs are the hardest songs to write. “Not break-up songs, but an actual
love song written in earnest. That is taboo now,” he says. “Sometimes it can feel like all the great
love songs have already been written.”
Haunted Mountain is about love and... something other. Something bigger than love, something
that doesn’t challenge love exactly but stands in contrast to it. A soulfulness, or a soul seeking
fullness.
The songs were written in mountains; by cold springs in the Serra da Estrela of Portugal, on the
submerged volcano of Milos in the Cyclades, Valle Onsernone in the Swiss Alps (where the cover
photo was taken, by his wife, Germain Dunes), and the Santa Monica range where Buck now calls
home.
560 miles from Buck’s hometown of Wimberley, Texas, the Franklin Mountains (or more reverently
named, Sierras de los Mansos) rise over the tops of the endless acres of pecan trees that surround
Sonic Ranch in the border town of Tornillo, where Haunted Mountain was recorded.
Mat Davidson (producer, pedal steel) writes: “One thing I find remarkable about Buck is that he
hasn’t lost touch with his sense of home, in spite of carrying a deep worldliness. It’s a rare quality,
and an important part of the way Buck does music. Embracing the earnestness in his care for home
is important to understanding this record. There is not much reprieve for the cynic here. The songs
are about discovering a new home, rather than returning.”
Buck wrote five of the eleven songs with his friend Jolie Holland (also originally from Texas), who
shares a kinship: two travelers leaving the valley, finding their homes on the mountain. “Jolie is an
encyclopedia of literature, poetry, and music, from the classics to the most radical, of ritual,
mythology, the occult, revolution - and she often weaves this understanding into her own songs,
bridging human experience with transcendence, and always with a great sense of beauty,” he
says. The first two verses and chorus of ‘Haunted Mountain’ were written by Jolie as a love song
to Mount Shasta in northern California, with the final verse written by Buck, together seeking
reciprocity with nature. “It’s about being humbled by the thing you’re drawing power from, only at
which point an actual, fair relationship begins.”
Mount Shasta returns in ‘Cyclades’, in a true story about his father narrowly avoiding a motorcycle
collision with a herd of elk.
Meek also collaborated with the late, legendary Judee Sill, for the record’s final song ‘The
Rainbow’. He was approached by the filmmakers behind Lost Angel: The Genius Of Judee Sill,
who asked him to set some of her unreleased lyrics to music. “Her family lent me her journal, which
was filled with lyrical sketches and complete songs that she never recorded. On the final page
were the words to an unfinished song she had dedicated to her ex-boyfriend and his daughter,
written three weeks before Judee’s death. I tried to honor her, to be a vessel for her and write a
melody and harmony that she might have written.”
In the songs, love often assumes a natural form - crystal ball dew-drops, green rivers and grasses,
tears bottled. Sometimes it becomes artificial - mood rings, earrings, a pair of jeans, motorcycles
and spacecraft. Sometimes cosmic - “I fell into a black hole with the hot flux of hazel” (from
‘Paradise’). Love is a consciousness here, interacting with the lovers, greeting them, watching
them sometimes, becoming them sometimes.
“When you are in love, it inhabits your environment, animates the inanimate, charging everything
around you with a sense of meaning,” he says, “and not just new love; also love of many years.”
It can be heard in the song ‘Didn’t Know You Then’, in the lyrics and in the feeling of love yearned
and sustained over distances, which the song coaxes into a high and sweet pitch. “I didn’t know
you then / Though my love grew / My love knew everything.”
Meek reflects, “A love song is no good if it’s not sincere”. You can hear this in ‘Secret Side’,
measuring the distance inherent between two people, as he sings, “I’ll never know the secret life
inside of you / I’ll never know the secret side of you”.
Romance is not the only form of love Haunted Mountain explores. The epic ‘Lullabies’ examines
the inexhaustible bond between mother and son, enduring across distance and transformation,
interpolating the country evergreen ‘You Are My Sunshine’ as he sings “You’ll never know dear /
How much I love you”. A platonic bond appears in ‘Where You’re Coming From’, then loss and
love come together in ‘Lagrimas’, about hiring a necromancer to communicate with someone who
has passed away, with words written on the wings of a bird. “The storm is rolling in slowly / We’ll
draw a circle on the ground / Take my words, little bird / to call upon the lover of clouds.”
The songs ask - is love a form of magic? Instances of telepathy are common in close relationships,
as ‘Mood Ring’ suggests with “I dreamt we woke in flames / That night she dreamt the same / The
fire burned our bed / Our bodies left woven and unscathed.”
Since Buck’s self-titled full-length album, the band has remained consistent - Adam Brisbin (guitar),
Austin Vaughn (drums), and Mat Davidson (pedal steel, bass on Buck Meek and second album
Two Saviors). In the year or so leading up to this recording they were joined by Ken Woodward
(bass). Buck’s brother, Dylan Meek, joined them for the session, on piano and synths. Haunted
Mountain was recorded and mixed in two weeks by Adrian Olsen, who also performed the sound
manipulation via modular synthesizer that can be heard throughout the album, most prominently
on ‘Mood Ring’.
One intention was to make a hi-fi album that contrasted with the intentionally lo-fi approach of Two
Saviors, while preserving the intimacy. Recorded live to two inch-tape, the group played together
in one big room, with no headphones. A band is always finding their sound, every time they pick
up their instruments, and you can hear them forming anew on songs like ‘Undae Dunes’ and
‘Cyclades’, rollicking wildly - and on songs like ‘Lagrimas’, ‘Secret Side’, and ‘Paradise’, where
attention is thick in the form of spaciousness and the supportive listening becomes atmospheric.
Mat Davidson, also one of Buck’s songwriting heroes, produced Haunted Mountain. In Mat’s
words, “The music here is an expression of a group. I asked for the job because I felt strongly that
we shouldn’t bring in someone from outside the band. Otherwise, the only personal desire I had
was that we be able to explore space, that we let the music open up and slow down in contrast to
previous records - not in terms of tempo but rather overall movement, information between the
beats.” Phones were left on a ledge outside and conversation about the music was reserved for
the control room; the live room was only used for playing music.
Buck Meek believes that all of the great love songs have not been written yet. In between the lines
of Haunted Mountain, we hear that love, in every form, is the creation of home, from within - forever
leaving one to find another.

over 18s only


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Stereo..

22-28 Renfield Lane
Glasgow
United Kingdom
G2 5AR

Venue Details



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