WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because the divine Mr. Banhart’s musical rise to significance is proof positive that with talent, timing and a little luck, all things are possible.
By Eugene S. Robinson
Let’s look for a second at the prospects for the average Venezuelan-American art school student dropout street musician. The career vista opening up for someone with those job qualifications looks like? Hmm … ass, in all likelihood.
Which is why Devendra Banhart’s road to un-ruin was so surprisingly refreshing. Mixed as it was with luck, kismet and huge amounts of god-given talent. And it didn’t hurt at all that his parents’ choice for a middle name for him was Obi, after the Star Wars wizard.
But the 32-year-old Banhart’s start seems nothing if not fortune favored. First stop, the San Francisco Art Institute. Banhart drops out to play music on the streets in Europe. His self-produced CD was bought by the wife of none other than Michael Gira, producer and singer for notable NYC band Swans and owner of Young God Records. Thusly “discovered,” he starts playing shows with Sonic Youth. BIG shows with Sonic Youth.
And then: craziness.
More records, Billboard charting, shows at Carnegie Hall, Bonaroo, Coachella, major label, books, films, genius side projects and a celebrity girlfriend (Natalie Portman, back before she was married).
All for his curious brand of quirky, achingly heartfelt, almost folky music. OZY can’t but help love this guy. And his work ethic. Plus the song that we can’t get out of our head now? We want you to not get out of your head.
HAH. Got you.
Add to this a 2014 touring schedule that reaches both far and wide, his recently released video directed by Galen Pehrson for his song ”Taurobolium” from a record (Mala) that some are calling one of the records of the year and Banhart’s mensch-ness? Absolutely beyond dispute.