In the early years, he was guitarist for The Blasters, while his older brother, Phil, sang. They had a tumultuous relationship and Dave went out on his own. Now, Dave was a English major and a poet, he understands how to make words work together and he knows music from years of playing it. That is what makes him the best songwriter in the world. He never sang in The Blasters, in spite of this lush deep baritone voice, perfect for the heart wrenching songs he sings. And believe me, I mean heart wrenching. Almost all of his songs are dark: desperation, death, and desertion.
A Dave Alvin show, either solo or with his group, The Guilty Men, will take you through an incredible range of emotions. He’ll do the fun songs, like the Cajun “Marie, Marie,” or the song recorded by Dwight Youkum, “Long White Cadillac” or the Blaster’s hit, “So Long Baby, Goodbye.” And take you down with “Mary Brown,” about a guy who hangs for shooting his lover's husband or "California Snow” about a border patrolman who finds dying immigrants in the mountains of
What does this have to do with the Fourth of July? One of his best songs, his only holiday song, is called, “The Fourth of July.” Totally paraphrasing: She cries in the dark, while he smokes a cigarette on the stairs alone, the Mexican kids are shooting fireworks below…Hey, baby, dry your tears and walk outside, whatever happened, I apologize. Hey, baby, it’s the Fourth of July.