Carson McHone discusses 10 songs that influenced new album ‘Still Life,’ shares new video
This past Friday, Austin alt-country singer Carson McHone released her third album and Merge debut Still Life, which was produced by Daniel Romano and features him playing multiple instruments on the record too (read our review). Today, Carson put out a new video for "Spoil on the Vine," and she also spoke to us about 10 songs that influenced her album, including tracks by Bob Dylan, The Kinks, The Stooges, Karen Dalton, Scott Walker, George Harrison, Randy Newman, and more. Check out her list with commentary on each pick, below.
"Lyric theatre presents exactly that, a play on words," Carson says of the new video. "The Foil takes many forms on the subconscious stage, and in this otherworldly landscape, illuminates the true reason and being within." It's her fourth self-directed video from the album, and you can watch it below. Pick up a copy of Carson's new album here.
10 SONGS THAT INFLUENCED CARSON MCHONE'S STILL LIFE
1. Randy Newman - “I think it���s Going to Rain Today” (from Randy Newman, 1968)
It’s the space between the notes as much as it is the notes that are played. The same with the vocal delivery, the words are, for the most part, almost spoken, so when he gives you a little bit of melody in his voice, it feels like a gift, which works perfectly with the irony of the lyrics.
2. Scott Walker - “It’s Raining Today” (from Scott 3, 1969)
The strings are so suggestive through the verses, the tension is incredible, and then the shift is so dramatic - it’s like watching a movie and the scene changes suddenly. The words are just killer too, so perfectly simple and to the point, like a good poem, but such drama from that dissonance in the strings just below. And how he holds out that last note - it’s just perfect, I feel like I need to go now, abandon this list and get back to work…
3. The Stooges - “I Wanna Be Your Dog” (from The Stooges, 1969)
Jingle bells and one note on piano = maybe the most sinister combination. (Thank you John Cale)
4. The Kinks - “Tired of Waiting for You” (from Kinda Kinks, 1965)
I think this was the first Kinks song I remember hearing that really drew me in. The rhythm of the guitars at the top almost feels off and then the drums and vocals come in and it just all falls into place. It doesn’t have the intricacy of some of the other Kinks songs that would follow on later records that I also love, but it’s perfectly punchy and the guitars have that almost subdued heaviness that’s just killer.
5. Bob Dylan - “One of Us Must Know” (from Blonde on Blonde, 1966)
This song is just insane, so callous and cavalier, in that way that Dylan does so well. I love the way the song builds into that chorus that just seems to well up - I could just laugh and cry at the same time - then it drops back down into the verse - but the piano and the organ keep it tap dancing the whole time.
6. Karen Dalton - “Something On Your Mind” (from In My Own Time, 1971)
Karen Dalton’s version of the Chet Powers song - I love the pedaling bass at the top of the song, for some reason that gives it a very modern feel to me, juxtaposed with the rest of the instrumentation - also, it just does that the whole time, it’s really the only thing that’s got its feet on the ground. I love the way a few of the instruments, the violin especially, are in this song, but just barely existing within it, they’re on the recording but they’re in their own world. There’s a lot going on, and it feels that way, with the 12 string and the steel and piano and the violin all going off at once, but it really works - “something’s on your mind” - it’s appropriately busy. And of course her voice is quite compelling.
7. George Harrison - “Run of the Mill” (from All Things Must Pass, 1970)
I love the way that everyone is playing along to the rhythm of his voice, the whole song feels as if it’s a bouncing ball, it feels as if I’ve just caught it in my mouth and swallowed it and it’s in my chest, still bouncing away and then at the end I fall on my back in the grass and my elbow hits the sod, and then my wrist and then somehow there’s that ball, rolling out of my hand and off down the hill.
8. John Cale - “Hanky Panky Nohow” (from Paris 1919, 1973)
There’s a trancelike quality to John Cale’s records, they’ve got a similar pulse - you can tell it comes from one body and yet there’s something ethereal about a lot of the songs, like this one. It feels kind of safe and sad at once - like a theatre in middle school - not juvenile or silly, it’s just a sense, it draws me in and I feel excitement and anticipation and like, “this is important”, and there’s a bit of a softness to it, so it feels safe, but then the reverb makes me feel like that thing that felt familiar may actually be faraway, maybe even out of reach. There’s something around the bend and I’m aware of that always in his work.
9. Richard and Linda Thompson - “When I Get to the Border” (from I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, 1974)
A true anthem, this tune. It’s rough and tough and tumble and vulnerable all at once, and I appreciate that combo, the mean guitar and the mandolin.
10. Javier Navarrete - “Long, Long Time Ago” (from Soundtrack: Pan’s Labyrinth, 2006)
This melody was stuck in my head for the entirety of this long tour I did in Europe in the summer of 2019. It’s eerie and beautiful and I love the humming at the top - it’s magical realism in song form.
Carson McHone -- 2022 Tour Dates
Mar 31 Milwaukee, WI – Cactus Club*
Apr 01 Chicago, IL – Sleeping Village*
Apr 09 Hamilton, ON – Casbah*
May 20 St. Catharines, ON – Warehouse*
May 21 Montreal, QC – La Sala Rossa*
May 22 Ottawa, ON – Club SAW*
May 23 Kingston, ON – The Mansion*
Jun 24 Mannheim, DE – Brandherd*
Jun 25 Luzern, CH – Suedpol Lucerne*
Jun 27 Berlin, DE – Privatclub*
Jun 29 Nijmegen, NL – Doornroosje*
Jun 30 Utrecht, NL – Tivoli Vredenburg*
Jul 01 Groningen, NL – Vera*
Jul 02 Haarlem, NL – Patronaat*
Jul 03 Den Haag, NL – PAARD*
Jul 06 Östersund, SE – Storsjöteatern*
Jul 09 Göteborg, SE – Pustervik*
Jul 10 Degerhamn, SE – Carlas Café*
Jul 12 Stockholm, SE – Galejan, Skansen*
Jul 13 Umeå, SE – Droskan*
Jul 14 Karlstad, SE – Karlstad Museum Pool*
Jul 15 Kristiansand, NO – Ravnedalen Live*
Jul 16 Oslo, NO – John Dee Live Club*
Jul 17 Löderup, SE – Solhällan Löderup*
Jul 26 Krefeld, DE – Kulturrampe*
Jul 28 London, UK – The Lexington*
Oct 01 Austin, TX – 3TEN at ACL Live*
Oct 15 Vancouver, BC – Venue*
Oct 16 Victoria, BC – Capital Ballroom*
Oct 20 Edmonton, AB – The Starlite Lounge*
Oct 21 Calgary, AB – Commonwealth Bar & Stage*
Oct 22 Saskatoon, SK – Louis’ Pub*
Oct 23 Winnipeg, MB – Park Theatre*
Oct 24 Regina, SK – The Exchange*
* w/ Daniel Romano’s Outfit