G. Love travels back to his roots
His mother’s record collection wasn’t large, but it good: The Beatles “White Album,” “Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Vol. 1,” Bob Marley’s “Rastaman Vibration,” Dr. John’s “Right Place Wrong Time,” “Donovan’s Greatest Hits,” and “Waylon & Willie.”
Garrett Dutton, better known as G. Love, figured out how to play The Beatles song “Rocky Raccoon,” and his musical wheels began to spin.
His role models were soloists out of Greenwich Village, N.Y., Dylan and the bluesman John Hammond Jr., who looks like he could have been G. Love’s father. He was 17 and living in Philadelphia.
“One side of me was this urban kid with a lot of urban (stuff) going down, the other side of me was an aspiring acoustic guitar player who was dreaming about getting out of the city and being in a more acoustic setting,” said G. Love, who combined hip-hop and country blues to make his own sound, which led to nationwide commercial success starting in the mid-1990s.
G. Love has always toured like a bluesman – relentlessly. He played so many shows he nearly wrecked his voice.
During a break from the road he sat on his parents porch and wrote a song.
“I’ve been running and I’ve been racing;
So many different towns, so many different places;
And I believe that it’s time for me to come home.”
“Home” is the penultimate track on G. Love’s latest album, “Fixin’ to Die,” a country blues record he made with Scott and Seth Avett.
The danger of switching genres to traditional blues is that it can easily fail. If emotion isn’t conveyed, it doesn’t feel authentic. But G. Love hits all the right notes here.
I believe him.
“It’s been something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time,” G. Love said. “I’m happy to get the opportunity to express that side of my music. The type of music that’s on this record is the kind of music I listen to when I’m at home. It’s music that I play when I’m off the stage. It’s a real passionate place. … It is like coming home.”
Released on the 100-year anniversary of Robert Johnson’s birth, “Fixin’ to Die,” the cover track, was written by Bukka White, a contemporary of Charlie Patton, who preceded both Johnsons, Robert and Tommy, the best known blues pioneers.
G. Love has been playing the field gospel tune for years, ever since he’d heard Dylan’s cover on his first album.
“Get Goin’,” a positively Dylanesque tune, and “Walk On,” are G. Love originals from years ago that found a home on “Fixin’ to Die.”
And the album’s other cover, Blind Willie McTell’s “You’ve Got to Die,” features North Mississippi Allstars’ Luther Dickinson on slide guitar.
“His dad, Jim (Dickinson), produced my second record,” G. Love said. “He (recently died). It was emotional for him and his brother Cody. We had reconnected at some gigs with Black Crows. I wanted a guitar solo. … He blazed the solo. It was kind of emotional for the both of us to connect on a song and reconnect our families after such a long time in the spirit of his father.”