First Watch: Sam Amidon, 'As I Roved Out'

May 15, 2013
Originally published on May 16, 2013 12:30 pm

Vermont folksinger Sam Amidon says he intentionally borrowed lines from older songs for his new mountain ballad "As I Roved Out." The result is an erratic narrative, played out brilliantly in an absorbing (and comical) new video about a

"What is it, banjo?" Amidon asks in the video, just as the seemingly possessed instrument jerks the singer around, lurching through the forest. "You have the sense that you are actually listening to a guy wandering around a bit drunk," Amidon writes via email. "[He's] taking sips from his bottle, occasionally bursting out into snatches of different songs that he knows — whatever pops into his head to suit his boisterously heartbroken mood."

The singer's random thoughts, director John Hardwick writes, create the surreal world he and other characters in the video inhabit. "I like to think that Sam, [drummer] Chris Vatalaro and the lovely bearded siren who dances nimbly between the bushes all exist in different eras," he writes. "And that they're only summoned together for a moment by the beautiful song. Like moths or ghosts who share a brief flicker of light."

The video ends with a spectacular aerial view as the camera rises into the treetops. Hardwick says they relied on "witchcraft" to get the otherwise impossible shot. "[We] researched the costs of a crane, then concluded that spells were cheaper."

"As I Roved Out" appears on Sam Amidon's new album, Bright Sunny South.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit