Roadtracks - Jim White Questions
by Frank -

Jim, do you like Rodeos?

If a cat has her kittens in the over does that make them biscuits?

Did you have animals at home?

I have a 5 year old daughter. Her mama has 19 animals at their house,
including a donkey. I like a very quiet place without millions of fleas.

Where did you live?

I live in the town I grew up in, Pensacola Florida, or as we call it
here (sarcastically) Pensatopia

There exist a lot mysterious about your person…..Ex-Junkie, Surfer,
model, Time by time worker who came into music business at an age where
others released there first best of. What happened really in your life
since today and how would you like to describe yourself as a person?

I'm a drifter who has always sought home. That makes me different from
the drifter who is trying to forget home. I'm seeking something lost,
which is why I've done so many strange jobs. All along my instinct was
to look for evidence of myself in strange and unlikely corners of the
world (like the little bread crumbs Hanzel & Gretel left to find their
way home). Harry Neilsson once wrote a beautiful film called "The
Point". The main character is called Obleo and he lives in a village of
people where they grown ups all have pointed heads. When the children
are born they have no point but by age 5 the point can be seen. But poor
Obleo never grew a point and so, when he reached the age of maturity, he
was banished from his village into a place called "The Pointless
Forrest". It's a beautiful story where Obleo in his journey, discovers
that, although he has no point on his head, he still has a point -- and
a good one.

Looking back to your life before your career as an musician, is there
something you regret?

What time is there for regrets? Twice on this album I wrote about this
issue "You can't waste the whole damn day loving what you need to cast

Are drugs still a problem in your life?

Normal drugs no. But I have an addictive personality and so have to
choose my addictions carefully. I'm addicted to my daughter's love, but
try not to burden her with the weight of that addiction.

Who or what helped you to get out of that drug-problem?

I wanted to find my way home. Drug addicts never find their way home. I
saw that very clearly one day and swore off drugs forever.

Jesus and the discussion about religion are themes that we can find in
many of your songs. Are you a religious person?

I was raised in a crazy fundamentalist town, where every word coming out
of every person's mouth is Jesus or The Lord. Were I do not talk about
these subjects I would be considered REALLY FREAKY by the local people.
Although I am a heretic, I am an acceptable heretic, as at least I am
rejecting God and not simply indifferent to the notion of an (as Nick
Cave called it) Interventionist God".

Your songs are almost short - stories, picked up by travelling around
and they full of american cliches like motels, diner, highways and
neon-signs and about people they are lonesome, impossible and
misunderstood. Did you feel as an artist working in the tradition of the
beat poets?

I hate the beat poets. I resent the celebration of wastrells. That
said, every once in a while I read some Charles Bukowski. My life is
the antithesis of the beats. They were seld destruction temple
destroyers who thought they would see truth in the smoking ruins of
theirselves. When you destroy the temple of yourself what you usually
end up with is a big fucking mess that can never be made into anything
constructive. As for me, I have carefully disassembled the monolithic
temple of self and have now started reconstruction. And look at all the
pretty bricks I have to work wtih. Eat your heart out Kurt Cobain. One
should never destroy the temple of self. There is no truth to be found
in pavillion oblivion.

It seems that you have an special fascination for that backdoor-America….

Yes...I'm a lazy truth seeker the raw world has an easier truth to find.
In a sophisticated world, it's so difficult to see what's true and
what's invented.

What means travelling to you?

It means leaving behind everything I have searched for my whole life.
My daughter, my house with all my projects laying around. I'm not a
happy traveler.

But when, you like it, travelling alone?

If I have to travel I prefer to do it alone, or at least I always have.
Now I have a very smart girlfriend who sees the world much the way I
see it, so when I travel with her the world seems even more interesting,
but still I miss my kid.

Is America as a country a melancholy one?

Lonely. Immature. Does Lonliness + Immaturity = melancholy? America
is a huge place with a million faces. No one word adequately describes
it. No mythology penetrates the mystery of it.

Do you think that people outside of your country really understand the
contents of the songs?

I think they see a dream world that sounds true. Dreams are sometimes
very helpful tools to understand something too complex to be understood
with the cognitive mind.

Are the songs mostly based on personal experiences?

What would they be based on - -impersonal experiences? But really,
you're asking if these stories are completely factual. To that I can
ask, "What is a fact?" Can a person describe their activities in terms
of facts? Probably wouldn't make a very good song. When I write songs
I have a big pile of notebooks that I employ, notebooks filled with
things I overheard (like my new album title) ideas that I had and
experiences that took place. Some days ago I read a news story about a
man who was "killed in a dispute over pumpkins" I wrote that in my
book. It was interesting. My songs are mosaics of what interests me.
On “Drill a hole....“ there are more electronic sounds and samples than

What is that special charme of that sounds that makes you working with it?

I live in a modern world, a world filled with machines, and electrical
devices. To not represent them would seem unfair. They have a right to
be included in the fun too, don’t they? In short, they are elements in
my life and consciousness and therefore need to appear in my songs.
There are a lot of well known musicians on the album, Oh Susanna, Mary did it come to work together with all these people?
They're friends whose work I admire. Whenever I make an album I feel
like it's an extended family reunion.

Is there someone, you would like it to work together?

Ali Farka Toure? Anouar Brahim? Shivkumar Sharma? In fact I'd like to
work with anyone who is a humble servant to the human condition.

Let’s talk about that music, which is a part of your songs since your
first album. What means Countrymusic to you?

I don't pay much attention to name tags. Once when me and David Byrne &
Yale Evelev (the other person who runs Luaka Bop) were talking about
which songs to put on Wrong Eyed Jesus, I remarked I wanted to put Angel
Land on the album. Yale said, "Nope, no country songs." Unhappy with
his response I looked to David for some support, but instead of speaking
up, he got a strange distant look on his face, then wandered away from
the desk where we were sitting. He looked like he was in a trance. I
looked at Yale, who was used to David's esoteric approaches, and he just
shrugged. We watched in silence while he walked over to a wall of CDs -
thousands of CDs in this wall to wall bookcase. Finally he pulled out a
CD and put it in the CD player. It was a Merle Haggard song. He
listened to the first verse & chorus, then said, "This doesn't even
sound like a country song." I agree with him. Name tags are for people
in the marketing business.

Jim, when are you going surfin for the last time?

When did I go, or when will I go? I'll go when my kid moves off to
college and doesn;t need my constant love and guidance. I surfed every
day of my life for fifteen years and learned what I need to learn about
that respect of myself. I'm not' real interested in recreation perse.
If I get a spare minute I spend it with my daughter, and she is afraid
of waves (at age 5 this is understandable) Ooooh - she's in the next
room watching cartoons, and there's cartoon on about SURFING as I write
this. And she's laughing. Maybe she's ready to surf.