Smog – Dress Sexy At My Funeral

26th February 2024 · 2000, 2000s, Music, Singer-songwriter

Bill Callahan has been plying his lo-fi trade for more than 35 years. I caught him at one of his first UK gigs when he still went by Smog.

About 30 years ago, during a brief period when “lo-fi” was considered a genre in its own right, I was invited to see an obscure singer-songwriter called ‘Smog’.

I had never heard of him, let alone heard him, when I turned up at the 12 Bar Club, looking forward to a catch-up with friends over some refreshments. I probably assumed Smog was a band.

Anyway, I foolishly spent most of his performance chatting to friends on the tiny balcony while Bill Callahan bared his soul in a set of quiet confessional songs to the fans crammed in below.

It was a similar experience to the time I saw Jeff Buckley at The Garage at around the same time, and his intimate performance was largely drowned out by braying cmusic biz types who preferred the sound of their own voices. Only this time it was my fault.

Other than my own oafish behaviour, which probably spoiled it for anyone in earshot (for which I can only belatedly apologise), I cannot remember a damn thing about the only time I saw the talented Bill Callahan perform live, though I have sporadically checked in on his career.

It’s hard to keep track because he is nothing if not prolific; this lovely song – Dress Sexy At My Funeral – comes from an album released way back in 2000; yet Dongs Of Sevotion was still the 8th he had put out at that point.

After at least a dozen under the name Smog, he then started releasing records under his own name, and I have followed him slightly more closely, filing him in my musical mind alongside the likes of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Vic Chesnutt and Sun Kill Moon.

Anyhow, here he is, dictating his last wishes to his wife in the event of his death: to wear a skimpy outfit to his funeral and regale mourners with some of their more memorable sexual exploits.

He does so channelling Lou Reed, not just vocally but also by singing over a grungy riff borrowed loosely from Sweet Jane.