Quick Q & A with Patrick Coman

Patrick Coman

Oklahoma-born Patrick Coman calls Boston home now. He’s not only playing solo gigs but has added a whole new dimension to the local music scene by putting together a collective of musicians for a road show type venture called “For the Sake of the Song.” The show is dedicated to the music that he and assorted musicians consider important artists in general and how that artist’s music influenced their own. He’s done shows dedicated to the music of Bob Dylan, Townes van Zandt, Linda Ronstadt, and Gram Parsons among others. Patrick’s music is an intriguing mix of blues, folk, rock and soul. Patrick is host of WUMB’s “Local Folk” show.

Check him out on his website. Here’s a video of “When the Bill Comes Due.”


What was the first Bob Dylan song that you remember hearing?
I don’t remember exactly, but I do remember when I was 17 a friend of mine played “Buckets of Rain” for me. It has this really sharp teen-romantic angst verse “I like your smile and your fingertips / I like the way you move your hips / I like the cool way you look at me / Everything about you is bringing me misery” that I could relate to all too well at the time. That was the first time I thought Dylan’s music spoke to me directly rather than just as a record of my parents’ generation.
What were your impressions about Dylan then? And now?
He has always been such a towering figure of pop culture as this protest singer and so it was gratifying as a teenager to listen to those records where he is rebelling against that image. I think now, especially with recent political events, I find myself drawn to his early work especially “The Times They Are A-Changin’” and I am shocked at how little has changed and how relevant those songs are to current events.
Have your impressions of Dylan changed over the years?
I think as I’ve gotten older and have had more life experiences, I have the capacity to understand a lot of his songs on a deeper level than when I was younger. Sometimes I’ll catch myself relating to a song of his that previously I thought was a throwaway track.
Do you have a favorite Dylan song or time period?
I think my favorite time period has to be that incredible three album run of Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde. The marriage of this great poetic voice with an undeniably kick ass rock band plus the feeling from Dylan and his musicians that had something to prove is hard to beat. Another favorite period is his late 90s/early 00s “comeback” with Time Out of Mind, Love and Theft, and Modern Times.
Have you seen Dylan live? If so, what were your impressions of the show?
I saw him perform once during the tour for Modern Times. The band was smoking with Denny Freeman and Stu Kimball on guitars especially tearing it up. He is famous for drastically rearranging his songs from year to year (or even show to show) which was jarring at the time, but especially in hindsight I am so impressed with his ability to keep the songs fresh and create new ways to deliver them night after night.
How has Dylan’s music affected your own songwriting and style?
Naturally his influence is inescapable as a singer/songwriter, but specifically one thing I’ve taken from him is to not be afraid of using older songs or ideas as a jumping off point for my own material. He is a master of taking the heart of an old blues or folk song and creating a new incredibly timely piece of music from it. Along the same lines, I’ve also tried to reenact the way he takes ordinary situations and recasts them as something epic and universal – listen to “Visions of Johanna” for a great example.
What can your fans expect to hear from or about you in the near future?
I just released a new music video and single for a song called “When The Bill Comes Due” that was written as a plea to potential Trump voters and it has been getting a lot of response, both positive and negative. It is part of a batch of new songs I recorded last fall for an album called Tree of Life. It is completed so I am just in the process of finalizing artwork and other details and we hope to be able to release it in the spring/summer of 2017. The songs were mostly written during an interesting period for me because my first child was born which was such a joyous, inspiring experience but it was contrasted by this dark and fearful mood leading up to the election, so I think you can definitely hear that internal struggle between dark and light in the material.

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