Gillian Welch and David Rawlings: Welcome To The Machine

But when you played the Newport Folk Festival under Dave’s name, and a few small shows leading up to it, that was before any of the original material for the Dave Rawlings Machine existed. That was just covers.

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GW: We were playing “I Hear Them All” and we were playing “To Be Young.”

DR: I was playing the older stuff. Yes, that was all. Because the point of the Newport gig was actually that we had a few songs for Gill’s new record that we wanted to put into a set without playing her entire show. But, yeah, the songs came from different places. Like the version of “It’s Too Easy to Feel Good” that’s on there, Ketch and I were out on Broadway a few months ago. We were busking here in Nashville. We went down there one night to play on the street with a fiddle and a banjo, and we had that song “It’s Too Easy.” We were singing a bunch of old-time tunes, and I wanted to sing something that I’d written. I thought about that song and I just rearranged it, because Gillian does sort of a slow, minor version of it, which is how it originally got written.

GW: Yeah, that’s not the way the song went.

DR: And I rewrote it a different way. I thought, “Well, if I play it like this, then Ketch can play fiddle on it and sort of bust it out.” And it went really well. We made some money. Some people stopped—which I figured, considering the other stuff they were stopping for was, like, “Wagon Wheel” and “Rocky Top”—I felt like it wasn’t that bad of a song.

Over what period of time were you writing those? Since “How’s About You” has such timely subject matter, people experiencing hard times, I would think that was within the past year.

GW: Actually, that’s the oldest one. I wrote that years ago and, basically, stuck it in a drawer, because I was like, “Oh, that’s funny. It’s a song about a Depression. Like that’s ever gonna happen again.” Yeah. Honestly. And put it in a drawer.

DR: I think there might have been a Democrat in the White House.

GW: It seemed like a laugh. Like, “When is that ever gonna be topical?”

DR: Again, that might be a song that never was released in the first place, because we weren’t crazy about singing it.

GW: Well, there was a funny thing. Just, in some way, the language of it, it just kind of seems like a dude song.

DR: And me being a dude, you know.

GW: I just kind of liked it better with a guy singing it. And I’m the last person…I don’t care. I’ll sing from the point of view of a guy. But it just is one of those things. It just seemed to work better. Have you been writing off and on during the whole period since Soul Journey?

GW: Mmhmm.

DR: We’ve been writing pretty much constantly since Soul Journey, I would say.

Gillian Welch and David Rawlings at the Filmore Theater


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  1. I am a fan of both Gillian and Dave from what I know through the Gillian albums. The new music from the Dave Rawlings Machine is just as captivating and I’m enjoying each listen. Thank you for this interview. I appreciate the look inside the workings at the machine. If you ever come out Montana-way, I sure hope to have the chance to see you in person.

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Chris Woods, EVP of TuneSat