Previously Performed in: 2012, 2002
Hey what about that preacher man on the run from the law
He killed a girl in Memphis and ran till the dogs tracked him down
They shot him by the river, and as he lay dyin in the mud
Someone asked him, hey preacher where’s your soul goin now?
Preacher say, well, I do not know, but wherever it is I’ll gladly go
Cause today is a perfect day to chase tornadoes.
Being born into a Pentecostal family in the deep southern states may not generally be thought of as the perfect breeding ground for eerie, cerebral, darkly comic songwriting, but it did produce Jim White, for which we can all be thankful. White (or Michael Davis Pratt as his family calls him) has spent a chunk of his musical time “struggling to unravel the big ball of tangled string in my brain called ‘Jesus and the South.’” His musings have resulted in music aficionado album favourites like Drill a Hole in that Substrate and Tell Me What You See and the cult favourite Wrong-eyed Jesus (The Mysterious Story of How I Shouted), the latter of which inspired a documentary called Searching for the Wrong-eyed Jesus.
White’s music spends a great deal of time musing on the snarled strands of pop culture and base instinct and putative truth. These mental meanderings don’t stick to any particular musical path; White plays with freeform jazz as easily as fingerstyle guitar. Signed originally to Luaka Bop Records (owned by David Byrne, another cerebral musical eccentric), he’s a generous and constant musical collaborator. White is also a creator of outsider visual art – says in fact that he was an artist long before he ever picked up a guitar – and an academic who hopes one day to give up touring entirely and teach.
It’s difficult to describe White’s music, and maybe descriptions are pointless. Maybe you simply listen for him on the breeze on the Island this weekend, and when you hear him, you will know.
When the wild wind whips around your head you will know
That you have found a perfect day to chase tornadoes