Music

Jason Isbell And George Saunders Come Together To Discuss Art And Geek Out Over Each Other

Sports fans often wonder what it would be like if two of their favorite players had been on the same team, or competed in the same era, because it’s fun to think about what could happen when extraordinary talents come together. It turns out this is pretty fun to do in other areas of entertainment too: Heck, our own Steven Hyden just picked his modern day version of the Traveling Wilburys country supergroup.

GQ had a similar idea when they decided to introduce country singer Jason Isbell and author George Saunders to each other, since they’re two of the best in their respective fields, and fans of each other’s work. What resulted is an hour-long conversation between two creative forces that touched on the nature of art, ambition, and other interesting topics. Watch the whole thing here.

While answering Saunders’ question about the function of art, Isbell says that while he used to see art as “really, really good entertainment,” his stance has since changed: “If it’s more important to you to say something, even if that something is convoluted and hard to understand, than it is to attract something, or to sell something, then I think you might be making art.”

Elsewhere, Saunders talks about the importance of embracing ambition, saying, “If you have it, you’re either going to spend a lot of energy denying it or suppressing it, or you’re going to say alright, I accept you. Come on, let’s go have some fun together. And then you can purify that intention by being grateful and aspiring to higher things. But if you deny it, then it’s like you had true love and didn’t show up.”

In the clip above, Saunders — who just won the prestigious Man Booker Prize for his debut novel, Lincoln in the Bardo — also takes a minute to geek out over the lyrics of Isbell’s “Children Of Children.” Watch the full hour-long video here.

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