Will Sheff & Charles Bissell – Will Sheff Covers Charles Bissell/ Charles Bissell Covers Will Sheff
Acquired: Love Garden, New, 2008
I remember doing a backflip when I heard this split 7” was happening. I mean, not a literal backflip—I’m a schlubby music critic, after all—but a geeky, nerd-brain backflip. Will Sheff of Okkervil River and Charles Bissell of the Wrens are two of my absolute favorite songwriters and that’s not even hyperbole. I think The Meadowlands is a master class in songwriting and still one of the freshest sounding rock records from the last twenty years. Sheff continues to hone his craft album after album and just the other day “Plus Ones” from The Stage Names came on in the car and I made Jenny stop talking so I could point out the brilliance of the songcraft. That didn’t go over well—shushing your wife never, ever does, especially to point out something only you find interesting—but these guys bring out my indie rock nerd. It seems strange that I haven’t listened to this 7” since the day I bought it, the day it came out way back in 2008. It’s helpful that both artists cover standouts from each other’s discography. Sheff’s rendition of Bissell’s “Ex-Girl Collection” is straightforward but dripping with Sheff’s personal affection for the track. “She pours herself a don’t-ask gin/ No ice and light on the bitters/ I’m through with quitters/ Why?/ Cause I found out/ Wipe that smile off your mouth/ I think it’s tell-me time,” is one of my favorite lyrics from anywhere and, as someone who has spent the majority of his adult life dwelling on ex-girlfriends (until I got married, of course), it speaks to me. The storytelling is just so, so choice. Bissell’s version of Sheff’s “It Ends in a Fall” (from Okkervil River’s Down the River of Golden Dreams) is hazy, hushed, and plays like it could be a Wrens track (although that’s mostly thanks to Bissell’s iconic guitar tones, which you can seriously pick out of a line-up). The track has a wonderful crescendo and damnit, more artists I love need to cover each other’s best songs.
"It Ends in a Fall"