Today we’re listening to “Chet” by Jeffrey Silverstein
Over the past week, I think I’ve been asked “What’s next?” a thousand times. It’s graduation time on the frozen tundra. Even here, the seasons change- both meteorologically and metaphorically. When you live in a college town, your life’s calendar tends to sync with the academic one. That extends to K-12- especially if you have a kid or two. And in my case, the question isn’t being asked of me but of my oldest, who graduated high school this week, ending one season of his life and kicking off the next.
In my own case, “what’s next” was a half-hearted attempt at college ( I mean, that’s what we’re supposed to do, right?). I quickly realized I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The books I was assigned felt like white noise. But the books I was reading at home were hitting hard. I took that as a sign, taking what little student loan money I had left and jumping in my Honda to hit the road, a carton of Parliaments and a Case Logic CD book riding shotgun. I lit out and started looking for…well, I didn’t know. I figured I’d know it when I found it.
What does any of this have to do with a record that came out almost 30 years later?
If you asked me to define “it,” I’d struggle to describe it. I can tell you where I went and share the stories of the people I met—the American West is full of wildly interesting people— and my constant quest to find my next four calendar cafe. I’m sure there’s some sort of larger life lesson in there.
Be careful going in search of adventure - it's ridiculously easy to find.
~William Least Heat-Moon
At some point, I’d invariably start talking about new horizons- literal and metaphorical. And when I think of those all of those miles on blue highways, chasing something in the distance, or a sunset with desert mountains silhouetted in the background, the soundtrack in my mind sounds something like this.
Wide, languid, expansive.
Silverstein didn’t write his Western Sky Music record about those days, of course, but it sure seems like it. The title feels almost too on the nose, the sounds even more so. And he didn’t write an homage to the open road- this song is about Chet Atkins- but he might as well have.
The track is warm and shimmers like the midday heat rising off of the asphalt. I find it slightly intoxicating like it was wondering what was over the next hill or around the next bend.
As for my kid? He’s not entirely sure what’s next, either. I’m ok with that. He’s smarter than me; he’ll figure it out. His future is wide open and adventure filled. Just like those roads, I flew down all those years ago.
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A couple of guests make notable contributions, William Tyler in “Chet,” Silverstein’s homage to the nimble-fingered country innovator Chet Atkins. Just off his own full-band rock record, Tyler joins in the disc’s most viscerally propulsive track, three guitars shimmering above a clattering sticks and snare beat.
Click here to read the rest of the overview.
“Chet” by Jeffrey Silverstein | Western Sky Music, 2023
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