Jason Isbell


20-10-2023 • 31 mins

After years of admiring Jason Isbell's gifts as a songwriter and storyteller, I finally got to ask the alt-country artist about his earliest sparks of creativity, and it was fascinating to hear his memories of sitting on the front porch, singing with members of his extended family during weekly Sunday evening gatherings, and of listening to his Pentecostal preacher grandfather playing guitar, and introducing him to gospel and mountain songs and bluegrass and the blues. "Music was something that was presented to me as something that was directly tied with family," he says. "The way creative pursuits were presented to me, it was something people did because it made them feel better, and because they could control the machines. And they had grown up very poor and didn't have control over much else. I think that combination of lack of options and just a genuine love for the way the arts were presented to me from the beginning culminated in my identifying with it so closely. And then something sort of made me a fool. Something in there somewhere told me to actually pursue this to the ends of the earth if I had to. That's the part I don't exactly understand." Isbell also talks about his love for Hendrix and Pearl Jam, about the lessons he learned from teaching guitar in his early twenties, how his songwriting process has evolved, and more. Jason and his band the 400 Unit are playing shows at Nashville's legendary Ryman Auditorium this week and have additional US dates early next year. Following the awesome new Isbell & The 400 Unit album Weathervanes earlier this year, he recently put out a deluxe, 10th anniversary reissue of 2013's Southeastern. You can get a copy, and tickets for the upcoming date, here. Isbell can also be seen in the new Martin Scorsese film Killers of the Flower Moon.