Damien Jurado’s higher mission 

click to enlarge New music: Damien Jurado’s latest introspective album, “Maraqopa,” has spiritual connotations. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • courtesy photo
  • New music: Damien Jurado’s latest introspective album, “Maraqopa,” has spiritual connotations.

Seattle folk-rocker Damien Jurado — who appears in San Francisco on Friday — recently has adopted a new philosophy.

It came not too long ago, when, having stopped at an intersection while driving through town with his teen son, he recalled the exact time on the dashboard clock; later that night, the news reported a fatal car accident at the same stoplight minutes later.

“These two people die instantly and their car catches on fire, and that really shook me up. And it’s been shaking me up ever since. I’m not saying to live like you’re going to die at any moment, but that really put things in perspective for me,” he says.

From now on, he says, “I’m going to hug my wife as hard as I can and let her know how much I love her, and love my friends as much as I can, too, because you don’t know. You just never know.”

The carpe diem mentality colors most of “Maraqopa,” Jurado’s introspective new collaboration with producer Richard Swift, which he’s backing with a show at Bottom of the Hill.

The album turned out so spiritual, Jurado himself was surprised.

“Maraqopa” opens with the somnolent “Nothing Is the News,” and lines such as, “You can’t go back, now every door has been closed/Standing outside, you’re just passing time till you die.”

Then through “Life Away From the Garden,” “Everyone a Star” and the title track, it becomes gospel-like in its reverence.

“It’s about searching, about one man’s journey,” Jurado says. “In the end, he finds love, but it’s too late, it’s over. But that’s not what I set out to do.”

“Maraqopa” is an imaginary place, says the erudite composer, also a talented fine artist. Its influences were historical: faith healer Catherine Coleman, hippie evangelist Lonnie Frisbee and old Life magazine photos of Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes.

“That whole 1960s idea of utopia,” he says. Upon listening to the finished mixes, he says, “It all dawned on me. All my inspirations had formed into a person, and that person was living throughout these songs, in a story. I was really shocked.”

Jurado — a nondenominational Christian — issued his debut, “Waters Ave S,” in 1997. But until now, he says, “I’ve never had my spiritual influences appear in songs before. It’s kind of rare. But I feel like I’m doing what God has called me to do, and that’s to serve people. And if I can serve you through my painting or my singing — or even my thoughts about something — that’s all I want to do.”


Damien Jurado

Where: Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., S.F.

When: 9 p.m. Friday


Contact: (415) 621-4455, www.bottomofthehill.com

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Tom Lanham

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