SUNDAY CLASSIC GTC: THOMAS GUIDUCCI The True Story of a Seasick Sailor in the Deep Blue Sea
Thomas Guiducci is The True Story of a Seasick Sailor in the Deep Blue Sea @ iTunes.
Introduction by Walter Price Interview by Pauline Andrès
Story-songs have a long history in formats far and wide but the ones in blues, folk and country have been the ones that have resonated the most with connoisseurs of truth and texture. The mainstream had all but forgotten the way Leadbelly, Marty Robbins, Dolly Parton, and Cash took the listener down roads of tales varied, tangible and both ends of heartfelt. But times they are a-changin’ and artists with the gift of telling authentic stories are being noticed once again.
Italian blues/folk-based Thomas Guiducci’s recently released full-length album, The True Story of a Seasick Sailor in the Deep Blue Sea, is a collection of stories moving in landscapes of heartbreak, hope, whimsical wandering and the abundant recessed nooks of life. Although Guiducci is more akin to the bluesier sides of Mark Oliver Everett and Jeff Mangum than Cash and Parton, the vulnerability in the stories is beautifully comparable.
Experiences have multiple points of view, and Thomas Guiducci’s The True Story of a Seasick Sailor in the Deep Blue Sea is a fascinating first-person exploration in layered sonic fabrics well worth navigation…
Pauline Andrès: First, let’s get this one out of the way: are you indeed a seasick sailor? I understand you do have a special relation to the sea.
Thomas Guiducci: The Seasick Sailor is a figure of speech, but I think that we are all sometimes seasick sailors in a way. I really love the Sea but since I was a baby I suffered from seasickness during the navigation. I love to sail, I love to go fishing, I love to swim but when I’m on a boat I always look forward to the shore. But unfortunately, when “my feet are on the ground I start feeling weird” and I dream about a ship that could take me somewhere in the “Deep Blue Sea”. So I thought that it would be nice to write a story about seasickness, real or metaphorical.
How important is storytelling to you and how do you find a balance between storytelling and the truth in your songs?
I like to tell the truth but – obviously – truth is not always your friend. Anyway, I always tell a story starting from something real, something about me or about things I see, then I start walking and writing and looking around and around; the truth is not a straight line and it’s never absolute.
Can you tell me a little more about Jericho Rose? Where does the idea come from and what’s behind the song?
The song is about love. The Rose of Jericho is a plant that could live without water for a long time, it looks dead but when it receives water the plant starts breathing and living once more. It’s the same with love. You can try to forget, but sometimes a spark can restart a fire that you thought was dead. And sometimes you have to look for that spark in the ashes just like the Jericho Rose looks for a drop of water in the ground.
There’s a lot of magic on that record: the presence of the sea, the spirit of the Magpie, your address to Mrs. Hope, the many ghosts…it all feels like you’re introducing quite some fantasy to a genre that is often classic in its themes. Was that a specific intention?
No, it wasn’t a specific intention. I’m so happy that you could find magic in my songs, I always try to write charming stories but a lot of the elements from which my stories come from are real. The Ghost Town is a real town, some of the characters in Mrs.Hope are real people. Also, the Magpie that gave me inspiration was as real as the Orange Moon I saw from a train window the night I started writing that song.
For those who are discovering your music for the first time, how would you introduce yourself to them?
It’s not so easy. I’m not really good at talking about me. But maybe my songs and my stories could do this for of me. What I can say about me is that I started playing early but I started writing songs late. Maybe because I had to live before having something to tell.
You’re Italian, you play American music. You love the sea, but it makes you unwell. Is ‘contradiction’ your high?
I love contradictions, but ‘contradiction’ is not a goal. If you experience contradictions it’s because you’re alive, because you love, because you try to do your best.
Lightning can exist only if there is a storm.
The format and the theme automatically made me think of Sturgill Simpson’s latest record, even if the music is its very own thing. But how do you feel about such comparisons and the Americana scene in general today?
I don’t know the latest record of Sturgill Simpson but I like his music. I listen to a lot of Americana music; I really love Shovels and Rope or The Felice Brothers. I think that Jack White is a genius, I really love Lucinda Williams or Lera Lynn, but I think that my musical life really changed when I discovered the Delta Blues and, later, when I listened for the first time to Johnny Cash and Townes Van Zandt.
In Italy there is a very good underground Americana scene but, of course, the music industry is in a bad situation and Americana music doesn’t get a lot of space. We also love and play a lot of Blues and roots music but sometimes we’re a bit derivatives.
For my part, I always try (metaphorically) to keep my feet soaked in some Mississippi Mud but I was born in Rimini and, maybe, my music could be influenced also by the popular Italian traditions.
What’s next, will you be touring to support the record? Do you have more songs in the pipeline?
I started playing in Italy to promote the new album and I’m planning to hit the road to Europe and, who knows, overseas. This summer I recorded a couple of unplugged songs (the first song and the last song of the album) at Sun Studio in Memphis and it would be nice if I could get back to the US.
[This article was first published by GTC 19. October 2016]
The album was recorded at the studios of the Good Luck Factory with the contributions of numerous musicians. The musicians that Guiducci has played with for many years (the former B-Folk Guys) supports the structure of the album.
The album is self-produced and was recorded between Studio Blu 2.0 in Turin, Italy and Guiducci’s home studio.