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John Moreland: Tiny Desk Concert

When you hear John Moreland's sweet voice, it's hard to believe he spent years singing in punk, metal-core and hardcore bands. You can still hear that passion in his music, only now it's punctuated by his acoustic guitar.

At the Tiny Desk, Moreland gave nod toward the more visceral side of his music when, about a minute into "Old Wounds," he sang, "if we don't bleed, it don't feel like a song." It's a line I could imagine Steve Earle singing. In fact, John Moreland's dad was a big fan of Steve Earle. It's a style of storytelling and image-painting that John Moreland has been making with his guitar for at least the past ten years, over seven albums. His songs are filled with characters and tales of broken love and broken people.

Moreland and his musical partner John Calvin Abney kick off the Tiny Desk Concert with "Sallisaw Blue," a song originally recorded in a bar in Moreland's hometown of Tulsa.

"Down for the count, along for the ride
Sipping cold medicine, ruining our lives
Slumming I-40 with American songs
They can bury our bodies in American wrongs"

This lead-off track to John Moreland's latest record, Big Bad Luv, is one of loneliness and pain but it comes from a talented man with a lot of heart, so it won't bring you down.

Set List

  • "Sallisaw Blue"
  • "Old Wounds"
  • "Cherokee"
  • Musicians

    John Moreland, John Calvin Abney

    Credits

    Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Dani Lyman; Production Assistants: Joshua Bote; Photo: Morgan Noelle Smith/NPR.

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.
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