Rock Squatter

Got futon?

If, as he suggests with the title of his new CD And Now That I'm in Your Shadow, Damien Jurado stands behind his whisper-voiced folk brethren like Sufjan Stevens and Iron & Wine's Sam Beam, he undoubtedly moves front and center when it comes to delivering the somber smackdown.

Jurado's musical tales of adultery, spousal abuse, and gasoline ingestion are populated with "crippled" characters sporting broken jaws, and mothers wailing over gunshot-victim sons amidst cries of "I am motionless, I am black," and "Here comes your death, here comes your death."

But before you go hiding your handguns, know that the singer-songwriter maintains a sharp separation between his life and art. "I've always approached my songwriting as an actor does a movie," Jurado says. "When I sit down and I write that song, or whenever I get up onstage and perform it, I have to put on different shoes that are no longer my own. When I hit that stage, it's like a director saying, 'Action.' And then when I leave, it's 'Cut,' and I put that away."

Which is not only good news for Jurado's family and friends, but his fans as well.

See, on his current tour, Jurado will attempt to forgo the hotels and motels of America's highways in favor of spending his post-gig evenings in the comforts of his admirers' homes. Jurado's even posted a request on his MySpace page.

"The response has been great," he says. "I mean, people are very welcoming. Also, it's a way of breaking down any barrier between the performer and the person. I mean, I definitely want people to see that I'm a person. It's so easy to get to look at a musician just as a musician, and I want people to know me for me."

And though camping overnight within the domiciles of relative strangers might provide experiences of interest to the songwriter, there's also the obvious economic advantage of avoiding those pesky Red Roof Inn charges. So is Jurado's quest to take over your guest room motivated more by economic concerns or by a search for adventure?

"I would say definitely more for the adventure. I'm not very social and so I try to sort of put myself into situations I normally would not be comfortable with. I've been doing that more and more these days."

And has practice brought the troubadour's social skills any closer to perfection?

"Uh, no."

 
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