If Darrell Scott played guitar in your band at a club show on a Saturday night, everyone who heard it would swear he was the best guitar player they had ever heard.
If he sang at that gig, they would swear he was the best singer they had ever heard.
If he played his songs, they would swear he was the best songwriter they had ever heard.
And they’d pretty much be right on all counts.
Darrell Scott was at The Rocky Mountain Folks Festival last week (which occurs in my back yard- seriously, we walk to the festival). He did a 75 minute set solo, and rocked harder, solo, than most bands you will ever see. He is an amazing writer, instrumentalist, and singer. I’ve seen him a bunch of times, and he brings me to tears every time. He’s that good.
I also got to sit in some workshop sessions with him at Song School over the years. He is unfailingly gentle, kind, honest and open. Someone once asked him what he thought about people who say songwriters shouldn’t bring their own emotional issues to the work of songwriting. His reply was “I don’t know why the hell else I’d be a songwriter. All my songs come from something I’m trying to work out for myself.” His songs reflect that- they are always personal in some form.
Hi command of popular genre is pretty amazing- he moves through blues, bluegrass, country, jazz, folk, and rock while still being quite uniquely himself. If you’re wondering who the heck I’m going on about, you will realize that you’ve heard tons of his songs sung by others over the years. You just didn’t know it. Also, he’s funny- listen to “Title of the Song” A great send-up of factory songwriting.
He is one of the artists that every time I see him I want to go home and write better songs. That’s what a hero is. Someone who inspires you to be better.
If you need a starter pack, I would listen to “Theater of the Unheard” (2003). Then listen to “Live In N.C.” (2004) to get a sense of his virtuosity. That’s a trio he’s playing with. A trio. Seriously. (Kenny Malone and Danny Thompson are awesome as well)
If you want to try to do good work, in whatever you do, you have to have some heroes. Some folks who inspire you to work harder, and hopefully better. It doesn’t mean you try to copy them, just that they become your go-to when you need to get fired up. I find it’s useful to think about who my heroes are. It tells me about what kind of work I want to do and gives me direction when I need some. Darrell Scott has become a touchstone over the years. His work is a well I can draw on when I need to.
I’m not sure I’ll ever sing or play as well as he does, but that’s not the point. He inspires me to sing and play and write as well as I can. To be more me. That’s what a hero does.
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