Song Stories: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’s “Wasting Time”

“Wasting Time,” off of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats’ eponymous 2015 album, is a culmination of many influences: Rateliff’s gypsy jazz guitar, Bill Callahan, Emmylou Harris and Americana among them. In our first episode of Song Stories, we chat with Rateliff about his favorite gear, how his guitars inform his writing and playing, and more about what exactly inspired the wistful “Wasting Time.”

The song, which is a highly lauded track off of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, is a morning song, both written and demo’d in the early morning in Rateliff’s home. “Wasting Time” is an ode to time spent struggling and how Rateliff felt in the midst of this turmoil. It stood out amongst the rest of the songs on the record, and since Rateliff wanted to avoid the entirety of the work sounding like a ‘60s R&B throwback, it was included.

Rateliff has had love affairs with many guitars, finding that he has a different relationship with each of them and that every one affects his playing and writing in different forms. He likes his huge, Emmylou Harris-inspired guitar for its huge sound and body, loves the Gibson Hummingbird and particularly the J-50, and even bought himself a costly Chet Atkins Tennessean from the ‘60s (on Reverb!). The desire he had to learn gypsy jazz led him to purchase a gypsy jazz guitar, and its unique quality and timbre inspired him to write many of the songs on the album.

Watch the video to hear Rateliff speak more about his gear and his writing and to hear Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats play “Wasting Time” in live in the Reverb studio.

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