Cody Chesnutt and Gary Clark Jr. have lifted their axes to salute American soldiers this Veterans Day, releasing a simple clip for their stunning collaboration, “Gunpowder on the Letter.”
Shot in black and white and interspersed with vintage footage of US servicemen in action, the video shows Chesnutt and Clark Jr. trading licks and lyrics. While the uptempo track bares all the markings of a rapturous blues boogie, “Gunpowder on the Letter” tells a harsher tale about a soldier reconciling the deaths of his brothers with his own survival. “Aw, but I feel like dancing,” Clark Jr. calls, as Chesnutt responds, “But I just can’t get all these faces out my head.”
“This song was inspired by a documentary I saw on veterans that had been traumatized by the act of war,” Chesnutt said in a statement. “The broken spirit and disillusionment expressed by these veterans, granted me access to both the spirit and voice needed to communicate the narrative.”
“Gunpowder on the Letter” initially appeared on Chesnutt’s latest collection, Landing On a Hundred: B Sides and Remixes, which saw release in March. As for Clark Jr., the hotshot guitarist has kept busy since the release of his 2012 major label debut, Blak and Blu. Earlier this year he remixed a number of Blak and Blu cuts for a special mixtape featuring rappers like Big K.R.I.T. and Talib Kweli, and in September, he released the live LP, Gary Clark Jr. Live.
Dave Grohl recently extolled Clark Jr.’s contribution on the Foo Fighters’ Sonic Highways track “What Did I Do?/God as My Witness.” Speaking to Rolling Stone, Grohl said of the guitarist, “He is, maybe unknowingly, carrying the torch of these blues players that came before him. When you’re sitting next to someone like that on the couch watching him do that, your jaw is just on the floor because it is 100% pure human expression. That’s every musician’s goal.”