The album name comes from a line in Dr. John’s “Walk on Guilded Splinters” where Steve misheard John’s actual phrase “Tit Alberta” as “Till I Burn Up.” But more than fodder for an album title, John’s Gris Gris, and records like it informed a new frame-of-mind for an artist who has historically set out to make a predetermined statement with every recording.

The idea of this young freak making Gris Gris in LA, and nobody knowing what to do with it in 1968… He gave me the confidence to be a little more freaky and abstract instead of quirky and nicely-packaged like my last album was,” Steve said, also citing early records by Iggy Pop and Dylan and The Band’s electric tour that were panned at the time and lauded in hindsight. “There is a confidence that comes with abandoning the idea of wanting to create something that everyone might like to check out.”

The creation of Till I Burn Up began at a studio in Woodstock, where Steve found himself playing Freddie Mercury’s Oberheim synthesizer with his guitar plugged into Robbie Robertson’s Fender amp. Like the harrowing moment, it documents, Till I Burn Up would not be true if not imbued by contradiction. There are turns on Till I Burn Up as dark as anything Delicate Steve has recorded, but not without reminders that a joy ride into an apocalypse is still a joy ride.

 

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