Willi Carlisle: Peculiar, Missouri | Country.de

Willi Carlisle: Peculiar, Missouri. Image copyright: Free Dirt Records

Willi Carlisle burns. He’s a force of nature. Not only can the force of his powerful songs blow you away, no, Carlisle is one of those “larger than life characters” who are only really themselves on a stage, be it huge or just the dark corner of a pub. For as long as anyone can remember, troubadours, traveling singers like him, have been minstrels, shamans or magicians, crazy mediums, there to explain the world and the universe to us, to tell fortunes, yes, ultimately to show us where we stand and who we are. They put their finger in the wound, give the mute a voice, warn us to listen and to stop.

As a spanner in the works of global turbo-capitalism, they are the hitchhikers who stand by the side of the road and, if you take them with you, talk to you until you leave the highway for their sake and drive to Wallachia. There the memory of the expressway of life is lost until it possibly fades completely. Yes, Willi Carlisle is this manic-looking bum, a strange stranger who, as a chance encounter, makes you forget what you thought was important a moment ago, but no longer need.

The Guardian once called Carlisle “the greatest Americana artist you’ve never heard of”: Outstanding storytelling, spirit, heart and courage, which always shine through in his well thought-out lyrics. Yes, there’s more than one Netflix series coming out of the Ozarks.

Armed with guitar, banjo, fiddle and accordion, Carlisle fights the great stupidity of the world for the little ones and says the good thing about music is that it encourages people to think about what they want out of life and what they really need.

Carlisle stands in the tradition of folk greats like Woody Guthrie and Utah Philips – his personal hero, and calls himself “poet and folk singer for the people”. This should not exclude anyone from his live shows. No matter where you come from, no matter what you’ve done. Carlisle is not accusing anyone. With his stories, modern parables, he first tries to reach heads and then hearts and makes it clear: It’s ok if you’re a little crazy. He is too.

If you ask him how he shared with the America get along, he resists: Who says it’s shared? People in the United States have been convinced that there are political and religious things that are like contested positions that you have to hold to the last man, that you have to die to defend. But standing up and fighting for yourself has been systematically stolen from most Americans. Absurdly, a country where the idea of freedom is so loved, a free spirit like Willi Carlisle, to be reminded of Utah Philips’ saying “freedom lives between your ears”.

Carlisle also knows no limits on stage. He is a loud ramp pig and buffoon when he performs old melodies, tender love songs and angry “Coming Of Age” anthems with all his body. Would it be on country folk shows Stagediving give, Willi would already take a run and dive into the crowd, so much does he need physical contact with the audience. For adrenaline junkies like him, shutdown time was without live shows like Cold Turkey. Now he’s touring more excessively again and means it when he asks people: “Please, don’t be a stranger!”

At the end of 2020, Willi Carlisle published via the Youtube channel of Western AF his song for the first time with a bizarre video Vanlife. It’s not an ordinary one Trucking Song. In “Vanlife,” Carlisle wittily, ironically contrasts the world of the privileged camping influencer on Instagram with the bitter life of the hard-working army of modern-day migrant workers, forced to live in their cars because they can no longer afford a home of their own. With sharp words, Carlisle draws attention to the inexorable social reality on the fringes of the world’s richest economy, as American capitalism even leaves various classes of homeless.

“Vanlife” is now available in a wonderful band version Special, MissouriCarlisle’s second regular album, due out in July 2022, produced by Grammy Award winners Joel Savoy in rural Louisiana. Not only is the title of the record and one of the songs borrowed from an actual Kansas City suburb, no, this Peculiar is more than a play on words. Peculiar, which can be translated as quirky, weird, or special, serves as the album’s staple for Carlisle’s Weird America and his personal stories. And of course he also uses it as a synonym for the term queer.

Carlisle’s themes are deeply rooted in rural, small-town, Midwestern life, in Kansas and Illinois, where he grew up. Born in Wichita, Kansas, he was both a high school football team captain and a medieval song singer in a high school club. Not yet openly queer and with a strong interest in poetry and singing, at 1.93 meters and an impressive 135 kilograms he was a gentle giant who always felt like an outsider.

His father played a crucial role in his musical development. All conceivable genres were found in his record collection. Since Willi was never allowed to touch the record player, it almost magically attracted him. Folk music and anything that told a story interested him, so when he was home alone he listened to weird cowboy singers, old-time bands, and his particular favourites R. Crumb and His Cheap Suit Serenaders. Around the age of 18 he discovered Harry Smiths Anthology Of American Folk Music. From then on he wanted to learn everything about folk music. Later brought to the Ozarks to teach literature, he found a home here and the soil on which his talent could thrive.

On “Peculiar, Missouri,” Carlisle sings about panic attacks at Walmart, about sad failed magicians, and turns to the topic of queerness, among other things. The special thing about Carlisle’s songs is how profoundly and bluntly he sings about reality and truth. Yes, and sometimes it’s true that life is a lie. In the country ballad “Life On The Fence” he portrays the highly emotional suffering, shame and inner turmoil of a married man who is having a same-sex affair. Growing up in a largely hypermasculine and homophobic environment, Carlisle has long wanted to write about the tragedy that bisexual men can endure. The result is a courageous and heartbreakingly open protest song.

Be it on gender issues or any other context of oppression and violence, Carlisle doesn’t mince his words. He doesn’t make detox folk for hip high earners, he snatches the concept of freedom from the powerful, neoliberal political actors. He gives us back what is ours. His country-esque freedom folk, fueled by humanity and love, widens the heart and frees the head from all the empty phrases of an economic system committed to maximizing profits and constant growth, which negates any humanity.

Maybe Willi Carlisle is the singer of the revolution, the Bob Dylan never wanted to be. When they shoot at us, he throws himself in the way and catches the bullets and turns them into poetry. We needed someone like him.

Willi Carlisle: Peculiar, Missouri: Das 2022er Album

Willi Carlisle: Peculiar, Missouri

title: Peculiar, Missouri
Artist: Willi Carlisle
release date: July 15, 2022
Label: Free Dirt Records
Formate: CD, Vinyl & Digital
Tracks: 12
Genre: Country & Folk

Willi Carlisle: Peculiar, Missouri: Order at Amazon!

Trackliste: (Special, Missouri)

01. Your Heart’s A Big Tent
02. Life On The Fence
03. Tulsa’s Last Magician
04. Vanlife
05. This World
06. I Won’t Be Afraid
07. Buffalo Bill
08. The Down And Back
09. Peculiar, Missouri
10. The Grand Design
11. Goodnight Loving Trail
12. Rainbow Mid Life’s Willo

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