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SWAGGER, NOT STYLE

The worldwide headquarters and hindquarters of freelance writer Chris Klimek

Deleted Scene: Hayes Carll

Chris Klimek

[caption id="attachment_7247" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Hayes Carll's devotion to the songwriter's art entails contemplating sex with Ann Coulter if necessary."][/caption] I'm a big fan of Austin singer-songwriter Hayes Carll, whose work I have written about before. I talked to him last week for Washingtonian; you can read that here. In honor of his appearance at the Birchmere tonight, I'd like to share a question I asked him when last I interviewed him, in June of this year. I wasn't able to use what he said in the piece I wrote then, so here it is now for you enjoyment and/or edification. Take it away, Me. You don’t speak with a pronounced Texas drawl, but you really let that out in some of your songs. How conscious are you of that? Did anyone earlier in your career maybe advise you to dial that up or down?

It’s not something I think about when I’m singing. When I started out, it was a fairly natural thing, because a lot of the music I listened to had that in it. My singing voice and my talking voice are sometimes different things. I grew up on country music. I had a lot of other influences behind that, but that was the musical backdrop to my childhood and my teenage years. When I started singing and trying to find my own voice, the guys I listened to were Prine and Dylan and Kristofferson; guys were never going to be known for their smooth vocal delivery, but what I loved about them was they had character. They had personality and experience in their voices.

Early on, I made a conscious effort to sound older and grittier than I was, because at 21, I did not sound like that. Long-term, that may be to my detriment, because there was a lot of cigarettes and booze and all-night screaming sessions that went into making my voice what it is. But it’s not like I’m doing an Irish accent or something that’s not me. I’m a sixth-generation Texan. It just kind of comes out naturally when I sing.