David Ferguson releases Will Oldham-directed video for Guy Clark cover off new solo LP
David Ferguson is a veteran producer who's worked with Johnny Cash, John Prine, Sturgill Simpson, Margo Price, Kurt Vile, Tyler Childers, and many others, and now he's set to release his own album, Nashville No More, on September 3 via Fat Possum (pre-order). He recently released the melancholic country twang of lead single "Knocking Around Nashville," and now he's released the second single, a cover of Guy Clark's "Boats to Build." David stays faithful to the original, but he also makes it his own, and his version may sound even more somber than the original.
The song comes with a video directed by Will Oldham, who penned the following essay on this video and working with David Ferguson:
Ferg called to ask if I’d direct a video for a song from this new collection, and I said yes. He called a week later and said the song was to be “Boats to Build” and that he had an idea: he and my 2-year-old daughter, Poppy, would sit on the floor building boats out of Legos. He said he had a good camera. I thought: my job is getting easier all the time! I asked him who wrote the song, and he told me it was written by Guy Clark and Verlon Thompson. I knew that Clark had died so I asked about Thompson. Ferg told me that Thompson was married to a prominent Nashville TV newscaster and that they co-owned a production studio in downtown Nashville; not only that, but Thompson had heard Ferg’s take on “Boats to Build” and loved it. So Ferg called Verlon and Verlon invited us to come shoot at his place, the Filming Station. I asked our great buddy Pete Townsend, who is a great drummer and who makes his living as a sound engineer on film and video shoots, if he would contribute his patience, expertise and two daughters to the adventure. Pete was all in. My ‘job’ as director couldn’t have been more streamlined. Ferg’s right-hand man Sean Sullivan came along and filled in everywhere the rest of us were lacking.
I met Ferg around 2001 when I went to witness Johnny Cash’s recording of a song I wrote called “I See a Darkness” at Rick Rubin’s Hollywood home studio. Ferg was the man at the mixing board. He both charmed and impressed me greatly. We hooked up again a few years later in Nashville, and have been close friends since then. I love David Ferguson. I especially love how and why he thinks of music. He has zero patience for bullshit and bad music. He hardly has patience for good music, but thankfully he’s found his way to making this beautiful record that truly only a Ferg could have made.
He makes music to illustrate his place in it. His friends are among the greatest of Music City’s pickers and songwriters. He’s got other friends too: lawyers, producers, handymen and dachshunds. He knows that he can both show off and deepen his relationship with his musical friends, and with his work in general, by sharing his musical awesomeness with us all.
As you can see in this video, the man is a honey bear. Full of love and song, and a true blast to be with. On the morning we shot the creek footage, Ferg came and met my daughter and I at the playground near his house. He brought Poppy a juice and something to munch on, and the three of us sat at the picnic table talking about life. It’s simple stuff, all the richer because Ferg is not a simple man. He’s a wild thing who strives, almost always successfully, to be clear and solid and straightforward. If he can’t give of himself, he says so clearly and with an honest air of regret.
Most of the great ideas in the video are Ferg’s. The green screen, the telescope, the motorcycle sidecar, Verlon’s inclusion. He trusted me to tie it up and help make his vision a reality, and I’ll be forever grateful that he roped me into this.
Pete Townsend hooked us up with editor Michael Carter, who hails from Nashville but now lives in Austin, Texas. Carter was able to find the love in all of the messes of footage we sent him.
Watch the video for "Boats to Build" and stream the previous single below.
The album also features guest vocals by Margo Price (on "Chardonnay") and Sierra Hull & Justin Moses (on "Hard Times Come Again No More"), plus contributions from Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Béla Fleck, Tim O’Brien, Mark Howard, Billy Sanford, Kenny Vaughan, Russ Pahl, Sam Bacco, Mike Rojas, Mike Bub, and Dave Roe. Tracklist below.
Ferg also does a Q&A and in-store performance with Matt Sweeney at Grimey's in Nashville on September 1. More info here.
Four Strong Winds
Boats to Build
Nights With You
Looking for Rainbows
Early Morning Rain
Knocking Around Nashville
My Autumns Done Come
Hard Times Come Again No More