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Thread: Drew Bunting

  1. #1
    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    Drew Bunting

    The world knows almost nothing of Drew Bunting. He has one amateur compilation as well as one more professional release. As I type this, he's happily pursuing his day job (Episcopalian priest/teacher) with the occasional musical side project (Monstrance, an all-clergy Episcopal band, was the most recent).

    I can understand that his music would be obscure, but that it is almost totally unknown... Hardly any views on youtube, no airplay even on the college and independent stations... Even in the states he lived in/sings about. Part of it is own near total disregard for self-promotion, but I would still imagine that the word would have gotten out.

    And yet I can understand it, I suppose. He doesn't exactly fit into an easy niche. He is a singer-songwriter who is clever and southern and heartfelt and dark and Christian and dorky and offbeat.

    Any one of those things can be a turn-off. Drew Bunting is all of them. And his actual output is hit or miss.

    But the hits... Are so. Fucking. Brilliant.

    I don't know, maybe no one but me and Drew Bunting and like maybe 100 of the 186 people who like him on Facebook feel this way. But I feel compelled to share some of his work here with you.
    Too bad, Lady Une. You were far too lenient.
    As a soldier, yes. But as a civilian I lived an austere life.

  2. #2
    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    So Bunting's earlier, self-published release is entitled "I Want to Believe," purposefully intended as an X-Files reference cum religious pun. This album is very much a mixed bag, a sampler of Bunting's output. It ranges from sophomoric to sublime.

    The first song, "I want to be a dweeb," sets the tone.

    How did I come to this?
    I remember watching G-Force
    Wiring up my jeans
    And wishing I could be a cyborg

    But I gave it up in seventh grade
    When I met Amy Brookheim
    Wasted ten years being hip
    When I could have read a lot of Heinlein


    Clever, fun lyrics. To me they strike a chord.

    The word play continues in "Man Bites God," typical for Bunting with clever lyrics, a catchy chorus, and glimpses of a personal struggle with what he feels is his calling to do God's work.

    Who died and made you king anwyay?
    Oh I remember; it was you.
    Yeah I read the book.
    Man bites God again.
    He's prickin' like a chigger at that thick, divine skin
    And flying off his rocker like he's Errol Flynn.
    Man bites God again.


    Bunting nails his tone in "Significant." Very similar to, say, a Ben Folds song, Bunting the author intellectually sympathizes with the ex-girlfriend while portraying himself, the narrator, as being lonely and dejected and missing his Beatles album moreso than the girl.

    You were going to visit your sister
    You were getting me out of your head
    You were taking your dignity, taking your pride
    And quitting when you were ahead

    And my copy of Sargeant Pepper
    When it could have been so significant
    Thundered away in the back
    Of your eight hundred dollar Turcel


    Bunting paints portraits with his songs, and he doesn't hesitate to use details from down home - the crab grass, the mosquitoes, culture enfused with Southern Baptist Elvis worship.

    From "Song for Elvis" -
    Daddy made dinner 'coz Mama was crying,
    Crying for you and for what she had been.


    I feel like, if you get it, you'll like it. If you don't, you won't.

    Like I said, "I want to Believe" is a mixed bag. It is, literally, an amateur effort, a self-recorded mix tape. At his weakest, Bunting is trying on styles like costumes. There's some faux Britpop, a drinking song (alctually quite melodic and even somewhat moving), some very bizarre electro-hiphop. Bunting is sometimes more concerned with making something clever and outlandish than saying something true. But he was a kid. He was showing off.

    "Deaner and the Schwinn" gets pretty silly, but the opening verses, with their theatrical contrast between the bluesy "walking alooooone... I could sing a song but the song would be too long..." and the jubilant "There he goes! The wind gets in this clothes! The wind gets in his nose!" is eminently effective.

    "Up at Four" feels very personal. The pathos is, perhaps, slightly overdone. Likewise with "Sewanee Mountain":

    I went down Sweanee Mountain just before the dawn.
    There I met a Methodist, the name of Baptist John
    Carving his last testament into the gates of stone.
    It said 'The LORD is my shephard, son. You leave me alone.'

    I turned back to ask him if he knew what he had said
    Hoping it was something from a book he'd never read.
    And as he turned to look at me and didn't make a sound
    The first of many dros of rain was falling to the ground.


    This is a mark of Bunting's youth. His later work is sharper, more sympathetic toward the darkness.

    So in the midst of this album, far from polished, we find one of Bunting's best songs.



    It's a bit heavy on the pathos (well, for this song, it has to be), but you get this evocative, beautiful, abstract depiction of a... relationsip: fraternal, driven, quasi-Biblical, two boys growing together and growing apart. And something that isn't salvation, something like maturity, instead.

    Still, it must come.
    As he stopped to light our cigarette
    I walked ahead
    We never were the same.

    And he bled dirty red wine
    And I drank gin
    As the miles grew thick between us
    And I read my Shakespeare, dug my grave
    Last edited by TeresaJ; 08-11-2016 at 08:01 PM.
    Too bad, Lady Une. You were far too lenient.
    As a soldier, yes. But as a civilian I lived an austere life.

  3. #3
    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    "I Want to Believe" also gives us "The Ballad of Silver Dollar Joe," which makes me tear up. Every. Time.

    Silver Dollar Joe was born in Nashville, Tennessee
    With the honeysuckle blooming all around.
    The news was all about the crater right outside of town
    Where a meteor had hit the ground.

    I met Joe when we were seven, back in eighty-two.
    I said hello, and he hit me in the eye.
    He said he had come to save the world from aliens
    And I had better stay on his good side.

    Joe was unpredictable that way.
    You never knew exactly what he'd say.

    One way or another, we became the best of friends.
    Together, we would study outer space.
    We read all the astro- and the cosmo-nauts
    Doing research for the human race.

    Joe and I decided we should train for weightlessness
    So we went to practice at the pool,
    But he didn't take his shirt off, and I asked him was was wrong.
    He said, 'Don't ever question me, you fool.'

    After we were finished, he was changing in a stall
    And I found myself unable to resist (...not that way).
    When he took his shirt off, I could see it plain as day:
    He had a big white birthmark on his chest.

    Lord, right then and there I know'd
    Why his Momma called him Silver Dollar Joe.

    I decided Joe would be embarrassed if I knew
    So I pretended I had never seen.
    We kept watching satellites and looking at the stars,
    Studying propulsion in between.

    January twenty-eight in nineteen eighty-six
    Joe was playing sick and stayed at home.
    When the teacher told us that the Challenger was gone,
    All that I could think about was Joe.

    If I ever needed Joe, I needed him right then
    But no one answered when I tried to phone.
    I got Ma to drive me all the way out to his house,
    But everything inside of it was gone.

    They had disappeared without a trace.
    That was when I gave up playing space.
    Too bad, Lady Une. You were far too lenient.
    As a soldier, yes. But as a civilian I lived an austere life.

  4. #4
    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    To be continued with remarks on Bunting's single professionally produced, polished work, a fully realized Nashville album: The New South.
    Too bad, Lady Une. You were far too lenient.
    As a soldier, yes. But as a civilian I lived an austere life.

  5. #5
    Senior Member BarIII's Avatar
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    Sounds like John Denver, not as good though. I don't know how the song writing compares. I'm a John Denver fan.

  6. #6
    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BarIII View Post
    Sounds like John Denver, not as good though. I don't know how the song writing compares. I'm a John Denver fan.
    I can see some superficial similarities, but I think John Denver's music tends to be simple, sincere, and sentimental, all of which Drew Bunting's music is not.

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