A student’s relationship with his teacher can be a complicated one– challenging and edifying, to be sure, but also constraining. How do you find your own voice, set off on your own path? For over two decades, Jason Wilber’s teacher was the John Prine. By his side on stages across the globe, Wilber honed his guitar skills and absorbed incalculable lessons from the legendary country singer/songwriter, but at the same time, the Indiana born performer knew he couldn’t share the spotlight forever, and began to forge his own formidable solo career.
But Wilber has always carried with him a deep understanding of the importance of the cycle of master and student; without great influence, new generations of artists couldn’t rise up and push music forward. On Echoes, Wilber’s ninth solo album, set to release on April 22nd, he elevates the art of the cover as he pays homage to this give and take within the industry, covering 11 tracks by artists who inspired him. The carefully selected tracks range from the obvious, such as John Prine’s “Paradise,” to the more obscure (“I Am The Cosmos,” from Big Star frontman Chris Bell’s posthumous solo album).
Today, Elmore is premiering Wilber’s cover of “The Game,” a track from Echo & the Bunnymen’s self-titled 1987 album. Wilber talks about his selection of this track for the record, recalling, “Having been a teenager in the 1980s, I have a special place in my heart and psyche for that music. Unfortunately, a lot of the production techniques and sounds that were used back then didn’t age well. I heard some Echo & the Bunnymen songs on the radio back then, but I didn’t remember “The Game” in particular. When (engineer/producer) Paul Mahern suggested it, he described it as; “A good song that was hobbled by ’80’s production.” I gave it a listen and agreed. As I learned it, I also found that it spoke to something in my life right now, and a bit of the weariness, and hopefully a little wisdom, that comes from many years in the entertainment business, writing and performing music.”
Wilber makes the song his own by rooting it in the acoustic guitar, a refreshing departure from the synth driven production of the original. Distilled to a roots/country track, Wilber’s gentle, beseeching twang drives home the lyrics, imbuing them with a sense of wistful melancholy.
Listen to “The Game” below, and pick up a copy of Echoes via Wilber’s website.