When Austin singer-songwriter Walker Lukens announced that he’d bring “a mobile recording studio/faux-confessional booth” to SXSW this year, I didn’t fully understand what that meant. But, in the spirit of SXSW, I went ahead and signed up for a recording session anyway.
Lukens, it turns out, was raffling away twenty spots in the Walker Luken’s Song Confessional, a sky-blue travel trailer with a makeshift recording studio on one side, a dimly lit nook on the other, and a wooden door separating the two. Winners of the raffle would get ten minutes in the confessional to talk about heartache, their dreams, Honey Butter Chicken Biscuits, or all three. (Or anything else they wanted to discuss, I guess.) On the other side of the door would be a producer and a local songwriter, who would take the next three hours to write and record a song inspired by the winner’s confessions. I wanted one of those spots—to my knowledge I have never had a song written about me, and my ego was excited by the prospect of being immortalized in musical form. But more than that, I knew that I had the perfect subject to discuss in the confessional booth, one that contains classic rock song elements of lust, confusion, danger, and risk: the sexiness of creepy character actor and Garland native Caleb Landry Jones.
My coworkers and I have been discussing Jones’s unique appeal for weeks, ever since we realized that he was the drummer in Friday Night Lights‘ fictional speed metal band, Crucifictorious. Post-FNL, Jones has made a name for himself with unnerving and memorable supporting performances in critically acclaimed works like Get Out and Twin Peaks: The Return. He’s convincingly creepy, inarguably handsome, and often both at the same time, which makes us feel pretty uncomfortable and a little bit gross. These, of course, are exactly the sort of complicated feelings one would want to work through in a safe space, like a therapist’s office—or a mobile recording studio and confessional booth.
So that’s what we did. During the middle of SXSW last week, two coworkers and I walked over to Sabine Street in downtown Austin (I’ll leave their identities a secret in case they’re not comfortable publicly outing themselves as CLJ enthusiasts) and talked through our feelings about Jones [editor’s note: I’ll admit it, I was one of ’em. —Abby Johnston]. We weren’t supposed to know who our songwriter was, but when we ran into Jackie Venson’s manager outside the confessional booth, the secret was spilled.
We had no idea how far she’d hit it out of the park until we heard the song on Monday.
The song was written by Venson, produced by Lukens, and engineered by Grant Eppley. As far as a title goes, I’ll always think of it as “ILYCLJ (I Love You Caleb Landry Jones)”—unless you suggest something even better in the comments.