I have always been one to gravitate towards songs with lyrics that challenge me and show a deep respect for the craft and an intimacy between the song and the songwriter. It is hard to judge lyrics based on whether they are good or not. It is, however, obvious when a songwriter is satisfied with what they are saying versus when they have sold out to public demand, money, and fame.
David Wilcox, not the Canadian blues guitarist but the Cleveland native singer-songwriter who resides in Ashville, N.C., is the most unique folk musician I have ever heard. In music, unique can mean one of two things: terrible music or artful ingenuity. David Wilcox is an ingenious song-writer and a phenomenal guitarist. He sees the world in a different way and has the rare gift of being able to almost perfectly capture his view and his thoughts with words. In “View From The Edge,” Wilcox describes life. He writes how different situations in life give us different views and it is the people on the edge, those who have been hurt or pushed aside who see life in its purest form. The lyrics are breathtaking. He writes, “A tiny little planet, a backyard with a hedge, you were safe there in the middle, ah, but the view is from the edge.” There is nothing that holds Wilcox back. When he is inspired, he finds a way to create a beautiful masterpiece.
Wilcox has countless other master works on over 15 albums. “Dynamite in the Distance,” from his 2010 album “Reverie,” is another example of Wilcox’s rare ability. He tells a beautiful story in this song. It is overflowing with meaning and deeper than most people’s understanding of emotion, even their own. This album is, in my opinion, one of his best. It has challenging songs like “Piece of Me,” and “Cast Off.” He tells stories in “Angeline,” “Ireland,” and “Stones of Jerusalem.” He lives up to his longstanding legacy as songwriter again with his 2014 album “Blaze.” One of the best songs on the album, “Single Candle,” tells of those whose time is cut short. It is about how even the smallest moment in time can have an impact on someone even if we do not know it. “Drift,” from the same album, is a philosophical song. Wilcox writes, “We need not rush this drift along this river.” It is a simple reminder to a seemingly impossible concept to live out. He reminds us to live in the moment, to take it in and take time to breathe right where we are; to let life take its time and come to us sometimes.
Wilcox is also a talented guitar player. He uses creative open tunings on many of his songs that give a new sound to what he does. His voicings in these tunings and use of multiple capos at times resonates, perfectly with the depth of his art — untouched by corporate greed. He is known for playing some of the finest guitars in the world. He has recorded many albums and performed his intimate concerts on Olson guitars as well as RainSong guitars. James Olson of Minnesota makes what some would argue, myself included, some of the best guitars available. The resonance of the woods that Olson uses and the intonation of the carbon fiber of the RainSong fit perfectly with who Wilcox is as a musician.
David Wilcox lives through his music. His songs are a view into the deepest, darkest caverns of humanity illuminated by his insight as a philosopher, a writer, and a musician.