When we first approached Bill Callahan to do a Field Recording in New York City, we asked him if he had any special place in mind. His reply surprised me: “A community garden.” I guess I’d stereotyped him in my head, because after all those years of dark, thoughtful songwriting — first as Smog and then on the pensive records he’s made under his own name — I’d imagined a library, someplace quiet and dark.
As it turned out, the brightly lit 6th & B Community Garden, with its lush greenery and mellow wildlife, provided just the right setting. The noise of cabs, buses, trucks and the occasional siren wound up punctuating Callahan’s calm, deep baritone, but he makes it easy to ignore. Here in Manhattan, he sings “Small Plane” from his new album Dream River, one of the best works of his fine career. It comes out Sept. 17, but in the meantime, this sun-drenched Field Recording provides a perfect introduction.
Producers: Mito Habe-Evans, Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Mito Habe-Evans, Mike Katzif; Event Coordinator: Saidah Blount; Special thanks to 6th and B Community Gardens; Executive Producer: Anya Grundmann