I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Mason Jennings tour DVD Use Your Van recently, when it finally popped to the top of my Netflix queue. It’s a very interesting look at an independent travelling musician, the life on the road, with Mason in the studio and on the stage. I appreciated the tension he illuminated between major label and independent, time spent on the road vs writing music, financial means to record in the studio vs. freedom to do what you want creatively. Plus, the man is dang funny — the film made me laugh out loud on more than one occassion. Pay close attention to the fake setlist he is shown devising backstage towards the end, with song names like “Diamond-Studded Bracelet, The Ribbed Or The Right, and Twice Is Fun, Three Times Is An Illegitimate Child.”
The songs throughout the film pull from all his albums — plus there are some unreleased gems, like this one.
In Your City (unreleased) – Mason Jennings
Recorded 2/13/2004 at the Use Your Voice CD release concert in MN, it’s an old-timey feeling piano waltz that makes me think of music boxes and cabaret, but tethered with Mason’s grounded, poetic lyrics. It made me smile widely. This particular mp3 is ripped from DVD, but check out a fan recording of the full show here; esp the Elliott Smith and Johnny Cash covers.