Willy Mason: Tristessa (24B Premiere)


Willy Mason, Marissa Nadler, Gregory Alan Isakov, Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo, and many other indie songwriters we’ve featured over the years have teamed up with producer Jim Sampas for a collection of original songs inspired by Jack Kerouac’s 1960 novella, Tristessa. Reimagine Music — the label behind Dylan and Rolling Stones cover sets noted in 2010, as well as a 2011 Nirvana tribute — are releasing the 16-track Esperanza: Songs From Jack Kerouac’s Tristessa next week (9/17). In addition to his work producing the new Kerouac-related film Big Sur and 2008 documentary One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur, Sampas’ name might ring a bell to anyone familiar with Ben Gibbard and Jay Farrar’s joint 2009 LP, which was a continuation of the latter film project.

Today, we’re honored to premiere Willy Mason‘s contribution: a lovely, first-person fever dream of bittersweet lost and found romance in the streets of Mexico City. Built sparely upon acoustic finger-picked Flamenco triplets and a melancholic fiddle, his vision of Tristessa recalls shades of Bob Dylan’s Desire and Leonard Cohen’s “Seems So Long Ago, Nancy,” a song Marissa Nadler referenced in her own impressive cut. Also a standout from the set is Gregory Alan Isakov’s “O City Lights” previewed here. Stream Mason’s excellent track above and pick up the whole set via iTunes here.