watch William Tyler perform “Sunken Garden” for a Westerly Sound session
Folk guitar great William Tyler recently recorded a session for the Westerly Sound Archives, “a series of videos and recordings by artist/musician Sean W Spellman in which he has invited friends and acquaintances into his spacious studio in Westerly, Rhode Island for quick, off-the-cuff performances.” William performed “Sunken Garden” off his 2016 Merge-released album Modern Country, and it sounded as gorgeous as you’d hope. Here’s what William says about the session and that song in particular:
This was shot by Nick my first afternoon ever in Westerly- a beautiful nook of a town whose spirit immediately took me in. It’s the kind of town you might only find on tour if you’re lucky, as I did. Between the sea and the woods- that’s my kind of place to land. The sun was perfect and deliberate in Sean’s studio that afternoon in September.
Sunken gardens are a traditional form of English garden.
The most famous ‘sunken garden’ in America was planted by a plumber in St Petersburg, Florida, in 1903- George Turner. He bought a small lake, drained it, and planted his private dream garden- citrus trees, tropical flowers, walkways. A humid oasis ten feet below the rest of the neighborhood.
The most American thing he could possibly do next was charge admission, and it quickly became one of Florida’s first roadside attractions.
I was thinking of Debussy’s ‘Sunken Cathedral’ when I wrote this piece a few years ago, and I knew I wanted the word ‘sunken’ in the title.
I was also thinking of the gorgeous above ground cemeteries of New Orleans- where the only way to entomb people below sea level was to build the cities of the dead above ground. The other night I watched ‘Easy Rider’ in a hotel very jet lagged, the film builds to a sort of climax in a New Orleans cemetery. The two wandering hippies have one kind of bad trip amongst the graves then a few minutes later a much different bad trip when the harsh reality of rednecks confronts them.
William is on tour with Kevin Morby Duo as we speak, hitting Cleveland tonight (9/5) followed by stops in Pittsburgh, Louisville, Nashville, St. Louis, and more. He’s also playing Yo La Tengo Camping Weekend in Big Sur and opening for YLT in San Francisco. All dates are listed below.
William Tyler — 2019 Tour Dates
09/05/19 Cleveland, OH Survival Kit Gallery*
09/06/19 Pittsburgh, PA The Warhol*
09/08/19 Nelsonville, OH Stuart’s Opera House*
09/09/19 Louisville, KY Zanzabar*
09/10/19 Nashville, TN Third Man Records*
09/12/19 St. Louis, MO Native Sound Recording*
09/13/19 Memphis, TN Crosstown Arts*
09/14/19 Oklahoma City, OK City Presbyterian Church*
09/15/19 Dallas, TX Sons of Hermann Hall
09/16/19 San Antonio, TX The Lonesome Rose
09/17/19 Austin, TX 3Ten ACL Live
09/21/19 Big Sur, CA Fernwood Resort (Yo La Tengo Camping Weekend)
09/22/19 San Francisco, CA Swedish American Hall
09/23/19 San Francisco, CA The Chapel^
09/26/19 Marfa, TX Trans-Pecos Festival
11/05/19 Brussels Belgium Botanique
11/08/19 Espinho Portugal Auditório de Espinho
11/09/19 Portalegre Portugal CAE
11/10/19 Lisbon Portugal Teatro Bocage
* – w/ Kevin Morby Duo
^ – w/ Yo La Tengo