Bearing Musical Witness To John B. McLemore, The Late Protagonist Of 'S-Town' Before his death in 2015, the subject of the hit podcast made music inspired by painter and ambient musician Tor Lundvall. Now, Lundvall is paying tribute to McLemore in return.
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Bearing Musical Witness To John B. McLemore, The Late Protagonist Of 'S-Town'

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Bearing Musical Witness To John B. McLemore, The Late Protagonist Of 'S-Town'

Bearing Musical Witness To John B. McLemore, The Late Protagonist Of 'S-Town'

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

John B. McLemore is probably best known for being the charismatic, obsessive, antique-clock-repairing, hedge-maze-building, dog-loving, murder-investigating, tattooed focus of S-Town, the podcast that came out last year. John B. was also a composer remixing the music of an artist who he never met.

TOR LUNDVALL: Hi, my name is Tor Lundvall. I'm a painter and musician. This started back in the fall of 2012. Out of the blue, I got an email from someone named John B. and in the subject - it was kind of funny - it said Tor Lundvall's Greatest Hits (laughter), which is kind of funny because I'm more of a ambient guy, very, you know, not really well-known. And I was just surprised that he compiled these really lengthy mixes of my music mixed in with his own material. You know, I was really intrigued, so I asked John to send me some music files and really loved them when I got them.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: For those of you who haven't listened to S-Town yet, there is a spoiler ahead. John B. and Tor Lundvall kept up an email correspondence. They talked about music and also John B.'s depression and loneliness, but they lost touch after a few months. John B. killed himself in 2015, and now Lundvall has released an album of John B.'s remixes and some of his own compositions as a tribute.

LUNDVALL: The album is called "Tor Lundvall Presents: Witness Marks - The Works Of John B. McLemore".

(SOUNDBITE OF TOR LUNDVALL AND JOHN B. MCLEMORE'S "CLOCK CHIMES IN THE MIST")

LUNDVALL: This track we're listening to now is called "Clock Chimes In The Mist."

(SOUNDBITE OF TOR LUNDVALL AND JOHN B. MCLEMORE'S "CLOCK CHIMES IN THE MIST")

LUNDVALL: The first part is all John with the clock bells and - except there's a sort of a pulsing sound that he has underlaying, and that's from a track of mine called "Night," that he repeats and actually builds up sort of that sort of mysterious environment. And right after the final clock chime...

(SOUNDBITE OF TOR LUNDVALL AND JOHN B. MCLEMORE'S "CLOCK CHIMES IN THE MIST")

LUNDVALL: ...There's a drastic change.

(SOUNDBITE OF TOR LUNDVALL AND JOHN B. MCLEMORE'S "CLOCK CHIMES IN THE MIST")

LUNDVALL: You'll hear sort of an instrumental piece at - you know, that comes in after that. And so two of my tracks are mixed in there.

(SOUNDBITE OF TOR LUNDVALL AND JOHN B. MCLEMORE'S "CLOCK CHIMES IN THE MIST")

LUNDVALL: While listening, images of fields and, you know, lonely fields kind of at twilight came into my head as I was listening to his recordings, and they get more ominous as it goes on.

(SOUNDBITE OF TOR LUNDVALL AND JOHN B. MCLEMORE'S "HIS DARKER PAINTINGS")

LUNDVALL: Track five, which is called "His Darker Paintings" - this is one of the pieces where it was entirely John.

SOUNDBITE OF TOR LUNDVALL AND JOHN B. MCLEMORE'S "HIS DARKER PAINTINGS")

LUNDVALL: He told me that in his notes, he was using some dried seed pods to make that shaking sound from his property there.

SOUNDBITE OF TOR LUNDVALL AND JOHN B. MCLEMORE'S "HIS DARKER PAINTINGS")

LUNDVALL: He explained that that track was inspired by some of my darker paintings. And it certainly is a very, you know, intense piece. As the track goes on towards the end, you just hear a creaking sound...

SOUNDBITE OF TOR LUNDVALL AND JOHN B. MCLEMORE'S "HIS DARKER PAINTINGS")

LUNDVALL: ...Which - I don't know if it's his door or some part of the house, but everyone in the podcast in S-Town, they were talking about, you know, sometimes you just sit around and listen to the creakings in this house. So it was pretty amazing to hear that in the recording, yeah. Well, John - yeah. John took his own life in 2015. When John sent me emails, you know, discussing his depression and his loneliness, I didn't want to preach to him, but I just encouraged him. I said, you know, I'm hoping you continue recording, you know, and working more on music. Again, I knew nothing about anything about him. I just thought it would help transform his feelings of loneliness into, you know, more of a content solitude, which is, you know, kind of easy to say but not always easy to do. So I didn't want to preach to him, but, you know, I saw a lot of promise in his music. So I did try to encourage that.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was musician and painter Tor Lundvall talking about his new album, "Tor Lundvall Presents: Witness Marks - The Works of John B. McLemore".

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