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Why I ❤️ Derek & The Dominos’ Layla (And Other Assorted Love Songs), by Jason Isbell

Jason Isbell on growing up in church and being inspired by Eric Clapton and Janet Jackson



Former Drive-By Truckers guitarist Jason Isbell will release Weathervanes, his eighth album with the 400 Unit, on June 9. It promises to offer plenty of storytelling for grown-ups, with songs touching on such themes as love, change, nostalgia and myths, cruelty, regret and redemption.

“There is something about boundaries on this record,” said Isbell. “As you mature, you still attempt to keep the ability to love somebody fully and completely while you’re growing into an adult and learning how to love yourself.”

Below, Isbell talks the music that first moved him. Weathervanes is available for pre-order now.  

“My first love was probably the Layla record. That or around the same time my parents gave me Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814. It had all those Sly Stone samples and stuff and I loved that record. So those were the first two records I remember actually flipping over myself, over and over. 

“But I was a huge Eric Clapton fan. That opened it up for me, cos when I was eleven or twelve years old I listened to Eric Clapton all the time and got all the recordings and really studied his playing. 

“The first music I heard was family stuff. My grandparents played and sang and my aunts and uncles played and sang. My parents didn’t, but they were always big music fans. My grandfather was a pentecostal preacher, so he played music in church. And because my hands were so small he started me off on the mandolin, and then a couple of years after that he started teaching me to play the guitar. He would play lead instruments while I would play rhythm.

“If you know what you’re talking about you’re probably gonna say [The Beatles’] Revolver’s the greatest [album]. I would say [Fleetwood Mac’s] Rumours is probably close to if not equal to Revolver as consistent, beautiful pieces of art. But yeah, I think Layla’s my favourite. That’s the one I listen to the most.”

Jason Isbell was speaking with Polly Glass.