Justin Golden

I thought I’d start off the week by sharing a song that’s been an uplifting presence in my life — Justin Golden’s new one, entitled “Arm’s Length.”

I chatted with Golden for a River City Magazine piece published at the very start of 2020, and it stands in my memory as such a rewarding conversation. It was a joy learning about Golden’s journey and influences, and about his devotion to musical preservation. Here’s one passage of that interview that stuck with me, about why he started transcribing lesser-known blues songs from the past:

What motivated you to start transcribing?

Documentation and performance. I’m not really so worried about recording it for me to put out to make money. I just want to have it in my repertoire, and be able to show it. In the blues community, some people are considered culture-bearers, or torch-bearers, and I think I’m starting to be one of those people. I feel the charge to actually get out there and do it, because that’s what I like to listen to, and another 100 years goes by and no one’s going to know how to do this…

“Arm’s Length” is a testament to the timelessness of Golden’s approach. The sharp guitar licks, the simmer of the slide, the overall warmth of the mix… “Arm’s Length” is a joy to listen to, and it paints a vivid picture of Golden’s knack for making traditional elements feel fresh and vibrant.

Most of all, I love how cathartic the chorus is. I think we all need to hear that “It’s ok” from time to time, and it’s especially meaningful hearing that in between verses in which ambiguity is present.

Whatever the upcoming week brings, I bet it’ll be better with “Arm’s Length” in your life.

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