I'd never heard of him. Someone's making a documentary about him and he listens to some of my music when he paints, so he wanted permission to have some of my music playing while he's painting in the film. He wanted to know how much it would cost, and I was in need of a cover. I usually have a good idea pretty early on in the process of making a record, but I was kind of struggling, and the deadline was getting near, so I was throwing out all my tentacles. I said, Well, you can have music if you give me a painting of a West Texas landscape. I wasn't really expecting to like it. I didn't know what would happen. It came, and I was blown away - I really like it. It always surprises me every time I look at it. I feel like it's moving like clouds, almost like it's changing every time I'm looking at it. I do feel that it's kind of ominous, but it's also pink and baby blue, so how ominous can that be?
Part of the agreement was don't send me the painting. I didn't know what it was going to look like, and if I hated it, it would be like, What am I going to do with this? So I just took a gamble. It's also like, I hate clutter. I'd rather not have something than have something, across the board. I've never been to Mules Ear Peak. It's about eight hours west. I've passed through there all the time on tour, but there's never any time to stop. I really like the landscape around here. I don't think a lot of people have seen it. That's just an assumption, I guess. People have an idea of what Texas is, there's so much space and things don't grow like California redwoods. Everything grows sideways, like live oak trees. Things grow tall because of competition, you know? They've got to get closer to the sun. But it's easier to grow sideways than it is to grow straight.
Bill Callahan, Purple Mountain Majesties, from The Fader, Issue 73