Absolutely majestic. Post-Smog wonder.
Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle is the second solo album by American musician Bill Callahan under his own name, released on April 14, 2009 via Drag City. Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle received very positive reviews from music critics and made several publications' year-end best album lists, notably being named the second best album of 2009 by Mojo magazine. In 2013, NME listed the album at number 443 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Absolutely majestic. Post-Smog wonder.
I'd never heard of Bill Callahan before today. The genre is classed as country, but that isn't the genre I heard upon listening to the album. Wikipedia has it classed more as apocalyptic folk, or doom country... Sounds like they are making up genres, but it does fit better in these categories than just straight "country". This type of music reminds me a lot of Nick Cave's more folk oriented albums. Bill's deep, slow vocal delivery brings with it feelings of gloom and despair. His phenomenal, poetic lyrics really drive these feelings home. He has a philosophical quality to his music. A few examples of deep lyrics include: 1) From the song Eid Ma Clack Shaw (about the death of someone close to him) : Love is the king of the beasts, And when it gets hungry it must kill to eat 2) From the song All Thoughts Are Prey to Some Beast (The eagle is depression and anxiety, and when he shows up all the smaller birds (good thoughts) fly off): The leafless tree looked like a brain, The birds within were all the thoughts and desires within me, Hoppin' around from branch to branch, Or snug in their nests listenin' in, An eagle came over the horizon, And shook the branches with its sight, The softer thoughts: Starlings, finches and wrens, The softer thoughts, they all took flight Overall, this was an amazingly deep album which was a lot to digest. Thankfully, none of the songs overstay their welcome. I listened to it twice today: once for the lyrics, and the second time for the musical accompaniment. An absolute classic of a record. I will definately listen again. I will say, you have to be in a gold head space in order to enjoy this record. It is very heavy and dark, but if you are open to it, it is absolutely beautiful. Favourite songs: My Friend, Rococo Zephyr, Too Many Birds, Jim Cain, All Thoughts Are Prey to Some Beast, Eid Ma Clack Shaw Least favourite songs: Invocation of Ratiocination 5/5
This sounds like someone’s dad who thinks he’s a singer but can actually only carry one note got access to a recording studio and tried to record a folk album.
Lost the will to live halfway through the first song. When hillbillies think they're deep.
Prog country - which I didn't know existed before! Really interesting and enjoyable, although it's tricky to pick out a best song as it works best as a single piece. Loved it!
I love Smog, and I'm pretty sure Bill Callahan has written and performed many gems during his subsequent career under his real name--I've been checking him out once in a while, just like you get news from a former good friend you don't see so much anymore, just to make sure he's alright. But I'd be lying if I said I knew the contents of his "solo" records by heart. So I guess it's nice that this app reminds me of him now... I'll stop beating about the bush, this album is excellent. "Jim Cain" is a perfect Callhanesque melancholic opener. "Eid Ma Clack Shaw" is the sort of surprising groovy cut Bill dabbles with sometimes, bringing welcome energy to the early part of the tracklist. "The Wind And The Dove" is a chiaruscuro wonder where the oriental flourishes and minor chords of the verses provide a stark contrast to the sudden major illuminations gracing the rest of the song. "Rococo Zephyr" is a subtle and touching love song. "Too Many Birds"'s finale provides a sort of gentle epiphany only Callahan is capable (the way the final line of the song is built up from one word from the next over that enticing piano hook at the end of each measure is a stroke of genius). "My Friend" is a mid-tempo oddity that's both tense and joyful, oddly enough (love the female wordless minimalistic backing vocals on that !). "All Thoughts Are Prey To Some Beast" is the experimental centerpiece of the album, a long dirge that uses the metaphor of birds on trees to go inside Callahan's psyche. And after a short instrumental interlude comes the baroque 10-minute closer of the album, the Nietzschean, yet paradoxically soulful, "Faith/Void". In this track, as in many other ones in this LP, the strings section and other lush instrumentation backing Callahan do wonders (that weird melodica at the end!). What's so surprising, in this song as well as other long ones Bill wrote elsewhere, is how time fly by while you listen to them. The American songwriter knows how to put his audience in a meditative state like few of his colleagues can. The only issue that could prevent me from giving five stars to this record is that as great as Bill Callahan is, I have a feeling his records (and some of his songs) are often interchangeable. Which is a problem for a list of "essential" LPs. Which one do you choose, in the end? Maybe 2022's "REALITY" could apply as well? But you can't cram everything in, can you? Wise and world-weary Callahan would probably laugh those vacuous concerns about a "best albums" list away, though. He's too much into the immanent moment to care about such neurotic endeavors. And he's right. So in that spirit, I guess my final grade doesn't matter that much... Number of albums left to listen to: approximately 500 (I've temporarely lost count here). Number of albums I'll include on my list: a half so far, approximately (including this one) Number of albums I *might* include; a quarter approximately. Number of albums I will never include (many others are more important): another quarter.
Sad cowboy folk? A much more interesting take on the country genre than the fifty "yeehaw pardner we don't like yer kind in Tennessee (banjo solo)" albums I've had to listen to. Reminds me of Nick Cave's "Ghosteen". They both even have a horse in an ethereal environment on the cover. Yeah, I really like this. 4/5
I wasn't completely blown away, but the tracks were all well composed and never overstayed their welcome. Highlight for me was 'All Thoughts Are Prey To Some Beast' - a great track with an equally great title.
hauntingly beautiful I need to hear more of his stuff 10/10
Pleasant voice. Slow entrancing music. Nothing ground breaking, but not a dime a dozen. I usually don't like this style of music, but this record was a lot better than I expected. Favorite song: Rococo Zephyr.
I likes this. I prefer the stuff he released as SMOG.
I enjoyed this, even if it felt a little more theatrical than my usual tastes, but really, it just made me want to listen to a Silver Jews record.
Talky folk. Nope
The best artist I’ve discovered so far on the platform. His deep clear voice sounds a bit like an indie Leo Kottke, the lyrics are thought provoking, but it’s the musical arrangements that blew me away. The varied melodic syncopation has uncommon feeling and depth to it. In particular My Friend and All Thoughts are Prey to Some Beast propelled this to a 5 star album from a solid 4.
At first listen Bill Callahan seems to fit in well with the songwriters of the early seventies like Townes Van Zandt, Nick Drake, and Lou Reed. It’s always refreshing to find well-composed, underground, and almost poetic music emerging in the 21st century. I can confidently say that “Jim Cain” is the most well written song we’ve gotten that (likely) none of us has ever heard, and even the very first lines are worth taking a deeper dive into. Why is he looking for the ordinary, as opposed to the extraordinary? Things don’t turn out as planned, but how do things end? Callahan’s songs take on a variety of experimental lyrical structures, such as the pyramid buildup in the back half of “Too Many Birds” and the well-placed repetition in “Faith/Void.” But more significantly, they invoke a variety of images in our minds. “All Thoughts Are Prey To Some Beast” is a stroll through the Columbia River Gorge while an angry Pacific storm brews out west. “Invocation of Ratiocination” is an eerily still midnight on the usually gusty Dakota plains. “Rococo Zephyr” is a warm breeze over whichever backyard creek makes you most yearn for the carefree days of youth. Stylistically, the album is a crossover between mid-career Beatles (particularly “Eleanor Rigby” from Revolver and “Blue Jay Way” from Magical Mystery Tour) and Transformer by Lou Reed. Bill Callahan’s lyrics are as rich as any and go far beyond most on even this list. I’d never heard of Callahan or anything by him, but I’ll definitely take a look at his catalog. I’m not sure if he found what he was looking for on his search for ordinary things, but with this album he’s certainly given us something more than ordinary.
Fascinating, compelling, emotional. Strong Nick Drake resemblance.
It's time to put God away.
Was quite excited to get this, as I am a strong casual fan and have not heard this in full. Some of his loveliest work on here, I think, and I'll probably add it to the collection. Jim Cain is exquisite, Eid Ma Clack Shaw poignantly funny, Faith/Void masterful. 2 listens, purchased and 5*
I could probably have lived a good life without listening to this. But I’m glad I don’t have to. I was never completely blown away by this, but I quickly fell into a trance-like state where only Callahan’s voice and compositions existed. The songs are rather sparse, emotional, a bit droning and often gives off a feeling of existential dread. This had somehow avoided me until now but I’m certain I’ll look into more releases from his hand.
There’s something familiar and unique about this album. Perhaps it’s Callaghan’s Leonard Cohenesque voice. Instrumentally in feels like an album from the 2000’s indie scene. This is a really surprising and enjoyable record for me.
Beautiful calming folk rock compositions with a rustic soothing voice. Found something I liked out of every track. Especially liked the atmospheric strings and punchy drums. Little complaints here. Favorites: Jim Cain, Eid Ma, Too Many Birds, All Thoughts are Prey to Some Beast, Faith/Void
Wow, I had not heard of Bill Callahan (or Smog). I really like his sound. And the first song is excellent. But the rest of the album... again, I like his sound, but aside from Faith, none of the other songs much caught my attention. Still, this is better than a lot of what's on the "1001 List", so I'll give it four stars. (It's better than the two Bowie albums I've been recommended so far, and I like Bowie.) I will be listening to more of Bill and Smog in the future.
Country alternativo, folk. Curioso. Un 4.
I wasn’t sure what to expect but this is really good
I like BC.
Enjoyed this, Artist added
This may be the unusual release that is great but does not make the list. To some, Bill Callahan's voice is a negative. I find his deep drawl soothing and perfectly suited to the uniformly excellent material. The instrumentation is both varied and impressive throughout. Many may find the material grave, but I find it lived in. I am not sure this is my favorite Bill Callahan disc - I think the honors go to Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest. Nonetheless, a great listen, four-star release that likely falls off my list.
I’ve listened to some Smog before but I don’t think I’ve heard Callahan’s self titled stuff. This is pretty pared down, almost trance-like at times. Reminded me of Willie Nelson a bit. You could argue it gets a bit dull but I think the song writing is strong and ultimately it’s a really nice album to listen to.
I'd never heard of him, but really liked this.
Surprisingly doomy for a country record, I like this a lot.
I absolutely loved the moody vibes of this album, and his frank vocal delivery. I just wish it had a bit more variety and energy to its pacing. This is just barely shy of a 5 for me.
Rating: 8/10 Best songs: Jim cain, Eid ma clack shaw, The wind and the dove
He's not exactly breaking any new ground, but it was pleasant and relaxing and sometimes clever. Best track: Too Many Birds
nice and deep and he can craft an allusive phrase
Relistened to this a few weeks ago and it’s just very lovely. All of Bill’s stuff just completely envelops you in this delicate world with his emotion-heavy voice just floating at the low end of this lush instrumentation rather than breaking above it - wonderful mixing and songwriting that always results in a soothing experience
I like it, a very personal listen, Bill Callahan's voice is almost hypnotic. This album needs to be listened to a number of times to fully appreciate I think.
Nice and relaxing.
first listen a singer-poet who sounds like steven wright
Onbekend, maar niet onbemind! Prachtig.
Un álbum de folk muy sólido. Melancólico y cálido, con letras interesantes y paisajes sonoros irresistibles. Un disco que se puede escuchar más de una vez, tanto como música de acompañamiento de actividades o para captar completamente tu atención.
A near masterpiece from the late 00s. With his baritone voice Callahan grows from the lo-fi approach of Smog to a more personal and developed music. Sometimes you feel him so close it hurts. His particular sense of humour somehow makes the album stronger. Hope always defies despair
What a voice and what a fantastic group of songs - as good as anything he's done before or since.
Prefer his previous album, but this is still great. Does every singer songwriter post 1990 have a "Nick Drake" phase?
Nice work vibes
I’ve tried to listen to this before but gave up. I really enjoyed it this time round. The production and string arrangements are really pleasing.
Enjoyable voice and a good time
really liked this
truly beautiful. The songwriting is heartwrenching and gorgeous. lush and full instrumentation and mixing. best tracks: Eid Ma Clack Shaw, Too Many Birds, Roccoco Zephyr
I really enjoyed this album. The alt-county/folk music is supplemented by a phenomenal and lush arrangement that lends a grandeur to the album. Bill Callahan's baritone speak singing style is arresting and demands attention though I see why some find it off putting. The result is an expansive record full of idiosyncrasies and very interesting musical and vocal choices. It is definitely an album that I need to return to so I can really make up my mind.
The lyrics tend to be cryptic but still seem profound and the vocals, while maybe not technically gifted, are very pleasant. He’s no Bob Dylan but he’s got those two things going for him. Pleasantly surprised
If anyone in Indie-dom has a more sonorous and deep voice I haven't heard them yet. I've liked Callahan since his Smog days, and he continues here with his fractured, intimate and poignant style of singing and song-writing here. I would compare him to other highly regarded American Indie Artists such as Andrew Bird, Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon, Kurt Wagner of Lambchop, and maybe also Sufjan Stevens - albeit his voice is the polar opposite of Stevens' almost fragile, whisper-like musings. I don't see any other Smog or Callahan albums on this list so I'll round it up a bit.
This was really good. Great songs, great voice. And an album I'll put back on when the weather gets colder and the fire goes up.
I always enjoy going into these albums completely unaware as to what to expect, and I was not disappointed with this one. Shades of Leonard Cohen.
Reading the description before I read it, I thought "man am I gonna hate this" - very open-minded, I know. But....the music gets me right away; it's gentle and simple, slowly meandering, but something/s in it are immediately infectious. Ok the singing. I'll say that his voice is...unorthodox. And after just once sentence I was thinking "o boy here we go..." but it works, and fits perfectly with the music. Take the lead track "Jim Cain" - ah, it sounds so stupid writing about how a song sounds or makes you feel if you think about it for like 3 seconds - but this song is like a soundtrack for a slow-motion wide-open panorama, driving or flying over the north american rocky mountains or floating down a river. Immediate images that were put into my head upon hearing it. ... so yes, back to his voice or rather "the vocals" (because it's more the dry and up-front style of recording that's the primary aural landing point, rather than "his voice" per se) - it can be really off-putting at times. It's just ... unusual - but it fits. And since I first wrote that, I've listened 2x more and it is just part of the music for me now. This is throwing me though: I just read someone comparing him to Leonard Cohen which now I'm going to have to re-evaluate my entire existence due to the fact that Leonard Cohen is on my permanent no-fly-list so now how can I go on. Dammit no. Seriously tho his vocals remind me more of a better Canadian: Mendelson Joe. Worst cut: "Faith/Void" - not due to the lyrics (because i completely agree) but <pun alert> JESUS ok ok yes it is time to put god thusly stated roughly 78 times so goddamned <2nd pun!> laconically. The music is so nice and would have been a great instrumental at half the length to gently fade the album out, instead it was a bad misstep. Anyways - against all odds overall I like it quite a bit. I think more than it's just "different" but the music is at once accessible yet not simple. Excellent and detailed arrangements. It's not for everyone, it won't even be for me that often, but I will definitely listen to this again. ....but boy do I know someone who is gonna *hate* this ... :D 7/10 4 stars
Good stuff 4
Solid, not sure I'd put this ahead of his Smog output
la radio de l’album 💆♀️
À la surprise générale
This was interesting. I kinda like it.
This is wonderful
This record is great. It doesn't prevent me from frequently mixing up Bill Callahan with Will Oldham, but it helps. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Musical identity here is flitting; Callahan's voice arrives with force for the familiar and, one assumes, the new. So it makes sense that the melodies cradling it stretch to five minutes and feel like two. The subject's somewhere in America, and that's both un- and important: Maneuvers over the album are sufficient motivation.
Genres: Alternative country Formed: ? Run time: 9 songs, 48 min 14 sec I’m not into Country but I didn’t mind this album. It’s very calm and almost ethereal. The sound is clean and simple with the focus on the lyrics. My Rating: ***
Lovely voice and guitar, nothing mind blowing
This is a weird one. Serene music with a strange vocal styling, I think it would take repeated listens to judge if it was above a 3 star. While the music is beautifully played, I’m not sure that this is a unique or important work that needs to be on this list.
I've not ever heard anything quite like this album, in or outside of this project. The album is labeled "alternative country" and while that's as fair a label as any, it still doesn't quite pinpoint Bill Callahan's style here. I will say, the combination of the specific "alternative" approach, Callahan's voice, and the songwriter lyrics gives all of this a very dark, melancholy, almost gothic overhang. Both vocally and musically, it's almost like hearing the lovechild of Willie Nelson and someone like Leonard Cohen. It's all a very unique intersection, and I can't say that I didn't find it intriguing! This album won't go down as a favorite, but I am very glad for the unique listening opportunity. Also, this album was recorded in the suburb where I live, a nice but fairly unremarkable piece of a larger metro area, so that was a fun coincidence to discover!
i'm not entirely sure i have heard anything like bill callahan's sometimes i wish we were an eagle before. calling this country is so limiting. there are a lot of country elements, yes, but then callahan will throw in beautiful string instruments or a tinkling piano, or use a south asian-like sound to start and begin "the wind and the dove." both aren't commonly found in country or folk music. he ends his album with "faith/void" to examine and disregard god while finding his own peace. his musical choices come across as bold. an unexpectedly enjoyable album. it took a few listens to enjoy and appreciate it. i continually find new aspects the more i listen. 3.5
I write shit haikus. Bill writes in the same style. Three stars shine brightly.
Bill Callahan (à prononcer impérativement avec une voix de coboye) vient se propulser en tant que favori au concours du pire combo pochette/nom d'album du générateur. Mais reprennons chacun des éléments un à un: - la pochette est tout simplement une image de chevaux pâturants dans le pré, à laquelle Bill a appliqué un filtre lumineux (luminosité augmenté environ à 78%). À ceci, Bill a ajouté un titre en police d'écriture Lucida Calligraphy, que vous pouvez retrouver sur tout bon logiciel de traitement de texte. - le nom d'album contient une faute de grammaire. En effet, il aurait fallu choisir un titre comme "Sometimes I Wish We Were Eagles", ou encore "Sometimes I Wish I Was An Eagle", car plusieurs personnes ne peuvent être un seul aigle
Folk. Tranquilo y agradable.
Voice sounds a little bit like Lou Reed, better maybe. Songs are sweet about relationships and animals. Pleasant, but I’ll not be returning. Low three.
Pretty bad vocals and very sleepy but I at least appreciate the poesy of these lyrics. 5/10
This album has no business being on this list. Having said that it was fine. I wish the quality of his voice matched the quality of the music underneath it. The final track “Faith/Void” was my favorite.
I admittedly could have given the lyrics a closer listen but I don't feel too embarrassed I hadn't heard of him prior to today. He's like if the Silver Jews and the National (I know, I know, they came after) had a step child. I think he's drawing a bit of inspiration from Astral Weeks (the strings and general arrangements, the pastoral imagery and overexposed treatment of the album art, some chord progressions) but it doesn't have the emotional weight for me. It's pleasant enough but I think I likely wouldn't have kept listening if I stumbled upon it on my own. I don't mind his voice as much as Marty but I also don't find anything crazy memorable here. I appreciated getting a different texture on "My Friend" but I dont know if that lifts it to a 4. Invocation was a HARD listen. I dont see what the dissonance added. Ended well enough though
Ok. Good "in the background" music. I like his voice and how in my ear it sounds on this recording. Besides that, it was a ok album to me. The last song, "Faith/Void" surprised me and I quite enjoyed it.
Really interesting album. I usually can't turn albums like this off fast enough, but something about this one kept my attention. The tracks are very well arranged, and the overall gothic country feel is something I'm not sure I've ever heard before. Favorite track: All Thoughts are Prey to Some Beast
Longtime Smog fan but I haven't kept up on his career under his own name. I liked this, though I don't know if it tops the list of what I've heard.
Better than I thought
I immensely liked his voice, but the songs are annoying and repetitive. So it's not bad, but not something I'll listen to again by myself. "Invocation of Ratiocination" was an excellent surprise to break the feeling of repetition, but it's very dislocated from the whole album, so it loses the primary purpose.
Schon gut, aber bisl langweilig.
Wow. Never heard of this guy before . I like it.
I like the tone of his voice and the slow haunting melodies. I feel like the product is worse than the sum of its parts, though. Something doesn’t fully click. Good! Not great. High 3, really
Cohen vibes? Chill modern folk times
Dit was behoorlijk goed, eerlijk gezegd!
One of those artists that I've never got around to listening to. Enjoyable relaxing background music. Reminds me of a cross between Leonard Cohen and Willy Mason.
The title of this album angered me. How can more than one person be AN eagle?! Anyhoo, the music was quite good. A but Jack Johnson but with less Hawaii.
A bit darker than I was imagining
Country que funcionou bem como música ambiente.
Fine and interesting folk and perhaps one I should have liked more than I did but on first listen it didn't grab me. One to revisit in the future though.
A little bland and sleep-inducing, but never unpleasant.
This was pretty good
Bill Callahan is yet another musician that has never come onto my radar before now. I can’t speak of any preconceptions as it is someone I’ve never heard of. the album art seems peaceful and happy, so let’s see what the album brings. Songs I already knew: none Favourites: Too Many Birds I listened to this together with my stinky other half while driving from Salisbury to Bath, and our opinions seems quite in sync. At the beginning, we both found the music quite charming, but we disliked the vocals. We both discussed how sometimes in music, if you’re a man with a deep voice then it doesn’t really matter if you can sing well or not (Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed, etc.). However, as the album went on, it did start to win us both over. I think I said at one point, “This is actually quite lovely,” to which there was agreement from smelly Rach. Overall, this was a nice album but I’m not sure it was strong enough to keep me listening again.
Decent singer songwriter
It takes a few songs for this album to warm up, but once it gets there, this is really nice. Not a fan of Bill Callahan's vocal, but there are some lovely guitar and string arrangements that I'm enjoying here. The lyrics are thoughtful and eloquent, worth reading on their own like poetry. Fave Songs: Rococo Zephyr, Too Many Birds, All Thoughts Are Prey to Some Beast, Faith/Void, The Wind and the Dove
chill but kinda ¯\_(ツ)_/¯