If you go
› What: Dave Rawlings Machine
› Where: Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.
› When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17
› Admission: $25, $35
› Phone: 423-757-5580
› Online: tivolichattanooga.com
Songwriting is hardly a science, most artists will tell you. Sometimes the songs seem to fall out of the sky or appear like a gift from some unseen deity. Other times, they can take weeks, months or years to grow from kernel of an idea or a word or a phrase or a simple note into a complete piece.
And sometimes what is needed is for another writer to complete the thought or the idea. David Rawlings is no stranger to songwriting. In fact, he's considered one of the best in the business right now.
For a lot of his work, he writes with longtime partner Gillian Welch, also known as a very good writer. Rawlings, who will appear Wednesday night, Jan. 17, at the Tivoli Theatre with Welch, said the two bring different things to the table and complement each other well.
"It's like doing a really complicated jigsaw puzzle where half of the pieces are invisible to you and the other half are invisible to the other person," he said.
"Every time one of us comes up with something that's a new piece, it gets closer to something that is finished.
"What's interesting, or the thing is, you don't know if you need 10 pieces or 10,000 pieces."
For his latest album, "Poor David's Almanack," Rawlings wrote and recorded a collection of songs that he said hearken back to the works of Woodie Guthrie and even Bob Dylan. They are songs he hopes sound at once as if they have always been there, yet are fresh and that will be around in a couple of hundred years.
He wrote about half by himself, which is fairly rare these days, and most of the rest with Welch. He said he wasn't really thinking about a new record or even a direction for new songs, but eventually realized he was focusing on songs that wanted to stretch out.
"These new songs were really longer pieces that moved around a lot, with more modern structures in mind. I don't know if it was intentional or not, but it is how it developed, and they are a lot of fun to play.
"We've had a good time touring this record. The show is about the most balanced and fun it's been to get up and play. They really work well with the songs we've been playing."
Contact Barry Courter at email@example.com or 423-757-6354.