Jason Isbell’s Feat of Tweets

JasonIsbell_Press_DavidMcClisterPhoto_6032-copyIgnore all the press that his new album is getting. Disregard the four-star reviews. Don’t give a thought that he is sitting on top of the Americana Music Association’s radio airplay chart this week. And forget that he’s making some of the best music of his career, touring like a madman and, along with his wife Amanda Shires, is expecting a baby in September. The really big story that the mainstream music press seems to be missing out on is that Jason Isbell has one of the more prolific and engaging feeds on Twitter.

Musicians using social media to promote themselves can be a real slippery slope. On one hand, it’s a great way to let people know what you’re up to, where you’re playing, and when you’ve got a new project to talk about. But since so many people are doing it, most of us become numb to the endless pseudo-advertisements that scream “buy buy buy” whatever it is they’re selling.

There are folks who try a little too hard to come up with the creative and offbeat observations that read like a long-bearded millennial post-hipster Hallmark card, and there are professional Twitter ghostwriters you can pay by the word to enhance and elevate your wonderfully witty image. Record labels, management, and marketing companies often take the reins from an artist to keep the feed on point. If you follow all five of the Kardashian sisters like I do, you’ll realize that there is a lot of auto-script programs that unleash the same stories simultaneously for maximum exposure.

In the case of Isbell, unless he’s fooled me and there is a 17-year-old intern sitting behind a MacBook Air somewhere in Nebraska pretending to be him, he has found a way to connect with his fans by just being himself. On June 20 and 21, he hit his stride when he began to take questions from his 86,000 followers on topics far and wide. I’ve got no idea how it all began, but when you put them all together, it was a helluvan interview.

It began slowly…

Q. What’s your favorite song?
A. I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (to stop now)

Q. What’s your favorite album?
A. Sticky Fingers

Q. More importantly, what’s your favorite Michael Bolton song?
A. To Love Somebody

Q. Favorite venue?
A The Ryman

Q. Favorite movie?
A. Magnolia

Moved to things more personal…

Q. Favorite thing about being sober?
A. No more shame

Q. Favorite thing about being Jason Isbell?
A. @amandashires, of course

And morphed into a random call and response…

Q. Favorite Pixar film, excluding Toy Story 1, 2, and 3?
A. Wall-E

Q. Favorite Tom T. Hall song?
A. Mama Bake A Pie

Q. Best cure for writer’s block?
A. Realize that it doesn’t exist

Q. What’s your favorite vegetable?
A. Onion

Q. What would you choose for your last meal?
A. Heroin

Q. Okay, once and for all, who was the best guitar player in the Rolling Stones? Mick Taylor? Keith Richards? Brian Jones?
A. Wayne Damn Perkins

Q. Favorite place to eat in Nashville?
A. Husk

Q. Favorite nut?
A. Pecan. Duh.

Q. Favorite Seinfeld episode?
A. The Parking Garage

Q. One word of advice from your current self to the 18 year old you?
A. Nonsmoker

Q. Favorite chore?
A. Hedge trimming

Q. Setup for that solo on Live Oak?
A. ’59 Gretsch Duo Jet + Dumble

Q. Best car chase scene in a movie?
A. Come on. Blues Brothers.

Q. Favorite way to conclude a Q&A with total strangers on Twitter?
A. {5 emojis of a girl waving goodbye}

And, his last tweet of the day on June 21 was: If I was female and single, I’d be texting Happy Father’s Day to any recent exes. Just to freak them out.

Well played, sir.

This was originally published by No Depression, as an Easy Ed’s Broadside column.