The Doe Bay Sessions: Damien Jurado
Damien Jurado Doe Bay Session ::: photo by Abbey Simmons
We’ve had lots of artists reconfigure their electric songs to fit an acoustic session, but never a song written specifically for a shoot. Enter Damien Jurado, who penned a song just for his Doe Bay Session, hand-written lyrics freshly inked on a folded up piece of paper read by flickering candlelight.
We were taken aback when Jurado said he’d written the song that day at Doe Bay, but we shouldn’t have been. Despite a decades-spanning career, Jurado is in the midst of a prolific phase, writing new songs almost daily, often in 20 minute spurts of creativity. The second song he sang for us, “Notes of the Season” was written this summer, while he waited for his wife Sarah in the car as she ran errands. After the grocery store, they returned home and he recorded it in a home studio he’d just set up that day.
Jurado is inspired these days. By his surroundings, by his day-to-day life and watching his son grow, by the books he’s reading, by the records he’s listening to and by the new generation of local songwriters he has inspired. Once a regular fixture at Conor Byrne Open Mic, sitting and watching each act intently, Jurado was often seen walking up to star-struck performers congratulating them on a new song in great detail. Jurado would comment on specific lyrics, bridges, notes, the mood … as if he’d listened to it on repeat all day, not at a crowded bar. Jurado is a careful, joyful listener.
At Doe Bay, Jurado walked the grounds, always clad in his corduroy jacket despite the summer temperatures, and served as an elder statesmen to the young bands playing the Festival. He stayed up through the full-moon and meteor shower nights talking with young artists about music and careers, as well as wormholes and aliens. But as much as he gives to these young musicians, artists starting out on their own careers who grew up listening to Jurado, amazed to see the man they admired in their audience or singing along, Jurado also gets something in return. He gets inspiration. He gets to write songs in 20 minutes. He gets to hear how those songs molded lives and careers, how they’ve inspired. He’s made friends and life long fans. He’s stepped in, fully, to his role of the quintessential living local songwriter and with every life he touches through words of wisdom or sad songs sung, he is ever more that person and that icon.
We are honored he took the time to sing for us and to write a song for this session. Standing down the trail, watching him pick along in the candlelight on our porch, his voice barely audible, quivering like a whisper through the trees, Josh and I looked at each other in inspired amazement. Ty glanced back from the camera with the same wide-eyed look. This is really happening. A Damien Jurado song is being born, right before our very eyes. And now, yours.