This Music Made Me

This Music Made Me: Ryley Walker

Ryley Walker

Ryley Walker

Ryley Walker is a contemporary folk guitarist from Chicago, known for exploring finger picking styles and Tim Buckley-inspired musical surrealism.

He has released two albums, with last month’s Primrose Green seeing him team up with an outstanding band of Chicago jazz musicians to create a freewheeling, enchanting blend of psychedelia, folk and improvisation.

The music contains some very transparent signposts, although Walker explores his influences knowingly, and with imagination. Walker tours the UK from the 18-24 April, including an appearance at London’s Berwick Street free music festival for Record Store Day.

Ahead of all of this, Walker delved into his record collection to find the albums that have influenced him most for his This Music Made Me


Pink Floyd - Meddle Pink Floyd – Meddle

This is one that really hit me when I was little.

Meddle is the Pink Floyd record that even my parents don’t even know – it’s a real treasure. Everything is gorgeous and so laid back – it’s their most stoned record. Every groove is super slow and gradually building.

There’s that tune ends with the whole football stadium (Fearless includes a recording of Liverpool football fans singing You’ll Never Walk Alone) – it’s crazy.


Bert Kansch - LA Turnaround Bert Jansch – LA Turnaround

Bert Jansch made this record in California for a new upstart label (Charisma was a British label started by Tony Stratton-Smith in 1969).

He recorded it with Mike Nesmith of the Monkees. I love Nesmith’s solo records too. They have that sunshine, pop feel. Red Rhodes is playing pedal steel – he was a session guy on everybody’s albums at that time.

Travelling Man is probably my favourite song ever. The way Bert plays on that is gorgeous. He had such a great mid-period – it’s really impressive.


John Martyn - Bless The Weather John Martyn – Bless The Weather

I love that song Head & Heart. John Martyn has these sweet but heartbreaking songs – he can deliver these sad songs in a very sweet way.

John Martyn and Tim Buckley were folk dudes but they hung with serious jazz musicians.

These artists influenced me to explore more of a folky jazz sound.


Tim Buckley - Blue Afternoon Tim Buckley – Blue Afternoon

This completely transformed me.

I one hundred percent take his musical themes and ideas on board.

The session musicians on there are just incredible – it sounds exactly like its title – like a blue afternoon.




Tim Tim Hardin - Suite For Susan And Damion Hardin – Suite For Susan Moore and Damion

This record is pure pain. There is nothing that can medicate the pain that he feels here. It’s so brutally honest and real. Apparently he never saw any royalties from If I Were A Carpenter. Things were going really wrong in his marriage. Some artists hide behind imagery or a character – but Tim Hardin was brutally honest in dedicating this to his wife Susan Moore.


Anne Briggs - Anne Briggs Anne Briggs – Anne Briggs

Anne Briggs makes music purely for herself. She hasn’t put out a record or played live in 20 years.

She put out records because she had to – the whole fame thing didn’t interest her at all.

Her guitar playing is slow and psychedelic. Her imagery is wonderful too – she is spinning out English and Irish poems and traditional folk songs in what feels like a very modern way.


Derek Bailey - Ballads Derek Bailey – Ballads

Derek Bailey had a huge career as an improviser – he’s on hundreds of recordings.

Here, he’s playing show tunes, rag time music and old roots American songs but in his own style – it’s just completely Derek Bailey. I listened to this 500 times when I was a kid.

His sense of time – this patience he has with the guitar – is incredible. He has this restraint but can also attack so well.


Jim O'Rourke - Insignificance Jim O’Rourke – Insignificance

I first encountered Jim O’Rourke through Bad Timing, which was huge for me. I was also in to Sonic Youth growing up.

He’s huge in the improv scene but he made this straightforward pop album, if only on the surface. The character on the record is a big misanthrope and the lyrics are dark.

It’s a terrific band too, with Glenn Kotche on drums amongst others.


Wooden Wand - Harem Of The Sundrum And The Witness Figg Wooden Wand – Harem On The Sundrum And The Witness Figg

Growing up, I had all these folk heroes who were perceived as old farts – Wooden Wand was a guy I discovered in high school.

Here’s this dude who lives in Kentucky – he comes from punk rock, but he wants to play folk music. He’s one of the greatest songwriters of his generation and he collaborates with so many people.

He has this DIY, noisy version of doing folk music. I’m lucky enough to call him my friend now.


Ryley Walker takes part in London’s Berwick Street Festival on 18 April 2015.

The album Primrose Green is out now through Dead Oceans. Tour dates and further information can be found here.

buy Ryley Walker MP3s or CDs
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More on Ryley Walker
Ryley Walker – Deafman Glance
Ryley Walker: “Stop cute folk music from progressing, please!” – Interview
Ryley Walker – Golden Sings That Have Been Sung
This Music Made Me: Ryley Walker
Ryley Walker – Primrose Green