El tema central de este Blog es LA FILOSOFÍA DE LA CABAÑA y/o EL REGRESO A LA NATURALEZA o sobre la construcción de un "paradiso perduto" y encontrar un lugar en él. La experiencia de la quietud silenciosa en la contemplación y la conexión entre el corazón y la tierra. La cabaña como objeto y método de pensamiento. Una cabaña para aprender a vivir de nuevo, y como ejemplo de que otras maneras de vivir son posibles sobre la tierra.

martes, 29 de enero de 2013

La dualidad de William Elliott Whitmore: el mundo y la cabaña

William Elliott Whitmore

Posted by: Pete Klockau

Here, in a cozy, one-room cabin that he built, William Elliott Whitmore stands surrounded by homemade shelves that teem with books and LPs, holding a cup of coffee and looking out a picture window that overlooks the paddock where his horse, Jed, and his mule, Lucky 13, butt heads and snort in the wild grasses.

Within the hour, he’ll be out feeding his chickens, or pitching in to help with chores at Grandma Whitmore’s beautiful old farmhouse not 200 feet away. She ever is the matriarch and family historian around here, with a background as colorful as a character in a Howard Hawks movie.

“There’s a barn around here that was built in 1866 by a long-ago relative on my mom’s side with lumber that he floated down the Mississippi himself,” Whitmore says via phone from his Iowa roost during a lengthy shit-shooting session. We were supposed to meet in person, but a blizzard left him snowed in for nearly a week.

“It might be the oldest building in the county still standing,” he says. “Everywhere I look, there are fingerprints of my forebears. This area is my spiritual center. I’m just fortunate to be its steward during my time here on Earth. It will be here forever; I’m just passing through.”

This probably sounds idyllic if you’re one of this country’s innumerable city dwellers, looking through your kitchen windows at overstuffed dumpsters, brick walls, and parked cars, or a suburbanite surveying your property while a familiar set of golden arches looms large on the horizon, keeping constant watch over a buzzing hive of interstates, strip malls, and outlet stores. And in a very real sense, it is. Like your dad always told you growing up, there’s something to be said for a life of hard work.

But Whitmore didn’t grow up much different than the rest of us, spending his afternoons in town with his cousin and his brother, skateboarding and raising hell while Black Flag and Public Enemy cassettes played in the background.

On that same stretch of road where the local cops used to tell them to “move it along,” there’s now a tattoo parlor run by a friend of the family. Here, everybody is family.

And though the meeting places of rural Iowa might now be the tattoo parlor or the sports bar up the road, that mythic American Mayberry sense of knowing your fellow man and looking out for your neighbor is alive and well here — something put to the test this past summer when the whole town came together to save the local watering hole from the swiftly encroaching floodwaters of North America’s biggest river.

But don’t let him fool you. Though a farm-boy heart beats proudly in his chest, William Elliott Whitmore has toured the world with nothing more than a banjo and a guitar for company. He learned French for an enthusiastic crowd in Paris, and has traveled from Copenhagen to Amsterdam to London, making all the stops between.

“I remember playing my first show in Rome,” he says. “I’d never been to Italy. As kind of an icebreaker, I told the crowd how I’d recently played a show in Rome, Georgia, which was this cool little town where I’d been booked at an abandoned train depot that everybody said was haunted. They got a kick out of that.”

The simple life with Whitmore and friend. 

William Elliott Whitmore vs. the modern world 
by Chris Parker

William Elliott Whitmore grew up in Lee County, Iowa, on a 160-acre farm in the southeast corner of the state, miles from the nearest town. The property has been handed down since Whitmore's Irish great-great-great-grandfather. The singer-songwriter lives on the property today behind the farmhouse, in a one-room stand-alone that he built with his own hands, with wood reclaimed from old half-burnt and dilapidated barns.

Like his lifestyle, Whitmore's music is rooted firmly in the past. His voice is as weathered as an old Midwestern colonial — boards warping, shingles askew, paint chipped and peeling. His music, fueled by a spare acoustic guitar and a kick-drum thump, lopes like a horse-drawn Amish cart clomping along a dusty back road. But he's not entirely mired in the old days. The duality of farm life and road living is integral to his identity and well-being. "I couldn't do either one all the time," Whitmore says, walking through some of the woods near his home. Even his concessions to modernity are well-aged: He's talking on a six-year-old flip phone.

"It's an interesting juxtaposition between those two worlds, and I think most people have something like that in their life," he says. "Going out, touring Europe, seeing what there is to see out there and meeting new folks, then coming back home to the quiet of the farm."

Whitmore comes from a family of musicians and iconoclasts who also cherished the land. His grandfather would "go racing his Harley down Main Street standing on the seat." Whitmore grew up with music and singing. When puberty hit, it brought a bountiful gift: a rich baritone that he could wield with a gospel-folk soul.

"It happened in the course of like a week," he recalls. "I always knew that I was never going to be a guitar virtuoso. But I could sing all right. That's always been the big tool in my toolbox. I always looked up to those guys who could do those interesting vocal tricks, like James Carr, Ray Charles — those old soul guys."

Much as he loved roots and soul music, Whitmore was equally drawn to punk rock. As a teen, Whitmore read the skateboard magazine Thrasher and would ride his tractor to town in his baggy pants in search of pavement. When his parents died suddenly, he left the farm to pursue music. He played basement shows, opened for punk bands, and eventually finished an autobiographical three-album cycle about life and loss.

"I was taught early on that death isn't bad but something that's natural. So I was writing a lot about those kinds of themes," he says. "It was basically how I dealt with all that stuff instead of jumping off a bridge. I used music for what it's good for, the healing power of creative expression."

When he finished those albums, Whitmore initially wondered if he had anything left to say. He found that he did. He signed to Anti- records and penned Animals in the Dark, which explored a full-band sound for the first time while delving into Dubya-inspired political allegory akin to Orwell's Animal Farm.

Whitmore has gone the other direction on his latest, Field Songs, which is a return of sorts to his roots. It's as austere sonically as anything he has done — somewhat suggestive of an actual field recording — and tells the stories of people of the land, perspectives and values that transcend time and place.

"It's a record I've been wanting to make for a long time. It kind of comes from that place of being one with where you're at, no matter where you're at," Whitmore explains. "It's a cool thing to think how insignificant we really are but, you know, conversely how meaningful our lives can be. It's just this weird paradox that your life is both really important and not important at all. It's a cool realization that makes going through the world more of a fun game."

lifetime underground from hogwash media on Vimeo.
a short film done for the ANTI- record label about recording artist william elliott whitmore. a short documentary looking at william's cabin in southern iowa and it's influence on his songwriting.


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