If there was ever an album that was ripe for a stellar tribute, it was Ted Lucas’s magical self-titled record. Portland, Oregon songwriter Jeffrey Silverstein was asked by Perpetual Doom to head up the project the label couldn’t have made a better choice. Silverstein, whose own solo work is quite wonderful itself, brought together a diverse array of artists to keep the spirit of Lucas’s album intact, with the first side being more song-based and the second side getting out into the deeper end of the ocean.
Every track is a winner, though Julianna Barwick and William Tyler’s take on “Now That I Know” keeps drawing me back. It’s a stunning, ethereal drifter that bends space to find a timeless vein that flows deep within. Laid back Sunday morning vibes imbue John Andrews and The Yawns’ “It’s So Easy (When You Know What You’re Doing)” where Amelia Courthouse gets deep into the flow on the subtly-funky “Robin’s Ride.” Future Museums’ heady, bass-driven take on “Love & Peace Raga” is a late-night groove, perfectly closing out this alternate reality adventure.
Smack in the middle is Silverstein’s duet with longtime collaborator Ryan Oxford on “It Is So Nice To Get Stoned,” my favorite on the original album. They nail the feeling of the song impeccably, lazily moving through the chord changes, smiling away as Silverstein croons Lucas’s enduring lyrics. The moment needed to be documented, though, and that’s where this video comes in. Silverstein joined Oxford at his studio in Portland to film a live performance of the piece, spliced it up with some choice b-roll footage and this is the wonderful result. Everything about this song and this video puts a smile on my face. To further the celebration, I asked Silverstein a few questions about the video and the project as a whole. Hit play and read on, friends.
First off, What is it about Ted’s music that makes it so special to you?
The timbre of his voice, his guitar playing, and the use of simple language. As someone who writes both instrumental and lyric-driven songs, Ted’s sole release from 1975 was an album that gave me permission to pursue both paths. It’s hard to fully express my gratitude for these songs. They’ve brought me joy and comfort countless times and working on this comp is an extension of that gratitude.
Let’s talk a little about the project more generally first… How did the project come together with Perpetual Doom and how did you get involved?
Lou was a fan of my debut LP from 2020, You Become The Mountain, which was also when Perpetual Doom launched as a label. He initially reached out to have me contribute to another tribute comp (details forthcoming) and after we got to talking, we quickly realized we were both huge Ted-heads. Lou was a perfect partner for this project. He is such a champion of all of the artists he works with at the label and beyond. I appreciated that he let me run wild and trusted that I had a clear vision of how it could come together.
Why is this such an important project?
First and foremost it served as a chance to honor Ted’s life and work. Having Ted’s son Peter be involved and get excited about it was incredible. It also formed a community in a time where that had been stripped from us in different ways. Working with Lou, all of the musicians, Jess Rotter (who illustrated the cover), and Alex Chapman (mastering), was just very inspiring and motivating. I’m still blown away by everyone’s contributions. Given Ted was a Detroit-native, we also wanted to find a way to connect with local organizations helping keep music alive. 10% of all sales from the compilation are going to Detroit Sound Conservancy + Seven Mile Music
How did you go about the curation process and figuring out artists you thought would be a good, interesting fit? Did you have specific songs in mind for specific artists or was there some other process?
Since the original LP is broken down with side A being more folk/lyric-driven tunes and side B being far out instrumentals, it allowed for a pretty clear delineation. I knew I wanted to tap into more of the experimental, ambient, etc. community for side B and thought about some of my favorite modern voices/songwriters for side A. I may have approached a couple artists with specific songs in mind, but it was more of a first come, first serve vibe. I loved finding out some of these artists had never heard Ted’s music before – made it all the more special.
I’m especially curious about the wonderful Julaina Barwick and William Tyler collaboration – how did that one come together?
I got lucky. I reached out to Julianna first and she immediately thought of bringing her close friend William Tyler on board. Couldn’t have asked for a better duo to tackle ‘Now That I Know.’ William was part of the team that re-issued the album on vinyl via Yoga Records back in 2018 so having him involved just felt right.
And lastly, can you talk a little about the cover you and Ryan Oxford contributed, “It Is So Nice To Get Stoned” – what drew you to that song in particular?
Ryan and I have a cosmic kinship. I’m lucky to call him a friend and creative partner. When I’m at his studio here in Portland, I feel so at ease. I think we were both looking to just get our minds right for a day when everything outside felt so heavy. I knew Ryan’s delivery would work well. Sometimes covering a super simple song is harder than learning a tune with a ton of changes, chords, etc. Once we found the right key I think we were able to get out of our own way and channel Ted’s laid-back energy.
The video/performance you all shot for it is fantastic. Any good stories or anything around doing that you can share?
Austin Abbott, who also shot and edited my video for ‘Bernard’ just crushed it. We were trying to come up with ways to break up the video so it wasn’t only a shot of us performing the whole time. It felt right to film in the same place we recorded the track. We jokingly were like, Ryan why don’t you do a full take with a joint dangling out your mouth – somehow he sounded even better that way?! I’m so pumped with how it came out.
Last thing, anything you want to share that I didn’t ask about?
Just a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone involved in the project + anyone who has bought a tape, shared kind words, or supported this release in any way. A second run of tapes is in the Perpetual Doom shop now + lots of other Ted related merch.
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