I have known Jason Eklund most of my life. He traveled in and out of my childhood. I played baseball with him in alternate summers. He was always different in a most fascinating way. He was the kind of kid who scared all the adults. Not because he was violent or particularly defiant, but because he was a true independent. He had a strong willed commitment to truth as he knew it. He was strong enough to resist the machinations of public schooling and adult/child manipulation. We all know that the number one goal of school is to produce willing, capable and fully molded minds ready to dive head long into the pursuit of material bliss. This dude was never buying what they were selling. He survived intact.
Jason Eklund is a rarity. He is not successful in a commercial sense, but he has produced music that is powerful, honest and true. When I think of Jason I also think of Charles Bukowski, Sixto Rodriguez, John Nichols and so many others. He is an artist. He is honest in a way that scares us. Our lives require us to lie, to accept the lies, to ignore the lies and – most importantly – to no longer even see the lie as a lie. “Success” often requires that we play along. Many performers trade their soul for recognition.
Jason is not one of those people. Just as he scared our teachers in grade school, he scares the “grown ups” that remain – they fear that if enough of us listen we may just revolt.
So many years have passed since I last saw or spoke with Jason. I think of him often as I rest comfortably – although insecurely – in my suburban life, he is still out there, making music, living life close to the bone, taking it as it comes and remains undiluted and true. He is what we most envy and what we most fear as a culture.
If you are looking for a really good beat that is easy to dance to – look elsewhere. If you are looking for a folk, country sound with lyrics that will punch you in the nose with the truth about life, love and getting through it all – this is for you. Once these songs get in your head, they will never leave. That is a good thing.
Be Strong. Remain Faithful. Walk Tall.