What piece of art changed your life? How did it affect you?
I saw How to Draw a Bunny, the documentary about Ray Johnson’s life. I had been familiar with Ray’s work, and I felt some sort of connection with him. Here’s a guy who could have been as popular as Andy Warhol, a guy who was on his own planet—probably even more so, to be completely honest—who never had a gallery showing, never used celebrity to sell his art, and was in absolute service to the source. That was inspiring to me.
Of course, there are records that changed my life. The first time I heard [Sly Stone's] There’s a Riot Goin’ On, I felt like I had found my purpose in life, even if it was just to listen to that record. I still listen to the first McCartney record every other day.
But Ray Johnson, I love that man. I didn’t know him, and I’m sure he could have been as much of a dick as he was a great artist, but there’s something about the dryness of his character and the fact that he just worked and worked and worked and worked. After he drowned, they found that his house was filled with his work with just a little mattress on the floor and stacks of books.
Other than having a family, I hope that’s all I leave behind—a body of work and the fact that I went to work every single day.
Richard Swift writes amazing songs—his latest CD, The Atlantic Ocean (Secretly Canadian), is proof of that, and "Lady Luck" may be my favorite song of the year (so far). He opens for The Fray at Merriweather Post Pavilion tomorrow night. If you're going, get there early and cheer loudly for Mr. Swift.