The Vermont singer Jay Nash
was a full-time touring musician by 2013, when he released his fifth album, Letters from the Lost
. He told us how "I Won't Let Go" came together: "That song started out as a bit of a musical meditation with my friend (and Vermont neighbor) Michael Zsoldos, who is a brilliant jazz saxophonist and arranger. We started with the guitar riff, with Michael sitting at the drum set. Michael does not play the drums, nor does he consider himself to be a drummer. We set up some mics and captured a live take. Next we developed a horn arrangement that I ended up reamping through a guitar amp. Before he headed home for the day, I had Michael play over the changes of the song, each time encouraging him to play fewer and fewer notes, saying as much as possible with as little as possible. Michael is accustomed to playing at breakneck speed over chord changes that would make my head spin.
So at the end of that session, I was left with this beautiful sounding track. I listened back to it and for some reason, was reminded of a situation with a friend a few years back where, in the midst of a conversation, my friend emptied an entire bottle of whiskey down their throat. I thought that my friend was going to die. Miraculously though, they did not. And in the time between panic and when I finally felt comfortable with the fact that all would be well, my friend and I shared one of the heaviest and most existential conversations that I have had in my entire life."