Guitarist Nathan Salsburg’s latest is titled Hard For To Win and Can’t Be Won, and it’s another striking collection of mostly instrumentals by the former LEO columnist. He plays a release show Tuesday, Sept. 17, at Greenhaus.
LEO: You’ve made two solos and a duo album in the past couple of years, in addition to working your job and producing box sets. What inspired this especially prolific period?
Nathan Salsburg: I hope the last few years’ worth of output isn’t a period, in that it’ll come to an end. I’d like to think that I just got myself into shape, and the productivity owes less to inspiration and more a practical and satisfying sense of vocation. There’s a Ned Rorem quote, paraphrasing Colette, that I keep close: “No one expects you to be happy — just get your work done.”
LEO: What’s the concept of this album?
NS: The album was largely written over this past winter, which I spent in Maine. Wintering in Maine is serious business — especially this one, which was the coldest one in decades — and some combination of the bitter cold, the dark, the proximity to water and the great local beer helped get the songs out. The record ended up being a means of making sense of that experience in that part of the world, and a meditation on what Donald Hall called “necessities of feeling” with regard to place and to home.
LEO: Can you explain the album’s title?
NS: In 1930, an Eastern Kentucky singer and banjo player named Hayes Shepherd — aka the Appalachia Vagabond — cut a version of an old lyric song that he called “Hard for to Love,” the first line of which is It’s hard for to love when you can’t be loved / it’s hard for to change your mind. It’s one of my favorite performances; the album title is a riff on it.
LEO: Ideal setting to hear your music?
NS: I think that’d be best addressed to someone who enjoys listening to my music, but my preference is un-amplified and outside.