For Eugene-based singer-songwriter Rudolf Korv, it’s about honoring the journey, while never losing sight of where he’s been. It’s about listening to the small voice that guides us along the way, whether it comes from somewhere deep inside, or someplace high above.
One night, seven years ago, Korv heard such a voice, in Lake Havasu City where Korv was born and raised, and had lived his entire life. Korv listened to that voice, leading the musician to where he is today, writing and playing music in the Willamette Valley town of Eugene, Oregon.
That journey is now chronicled in Korv’s latest single, “Oregon (The Land that I love),” out now on all major music streaming services.
Produced by Tyler Fortier (Anna Tivel, Jeffrey Martin) at his home studio in Eugene, the song features lushly strummed acoustic guitar with echoes of pedal steel guitar over a skeletal framework of ringing piano chords.
The song is a big-hearted, yet gentle, acoustic ballad.
“From the coast, where the ocean strikes the shore,” Korv sings with conviction, his voice booming from the ocean to the peaks of the Coastal and Cascade Mountain range and across Central Oregon’s high plateau.
“Through the rivers and mountains, I explore, I love this land,” he continues, the vistas passing before his eyes, conjuring them for the listener as well.
But Korv may never have ended up in Oregon if he hadn’t heeded the words that came to him late one night back in Arizona — was it a voice inside his head, or was it perhaps a message from some unnamed higher power?
“I’m sitting on my back porch at three-o’clock in the morning, and I’m having this fist-waving conversation with God,” Korv recalls. A married man and father of three, he’d been a minister for over a decade, with a successful side business in graphic design.
“My family is suffering because I’m so busy doing things that are good, but they’re sort of being left behind,” Korv continues. He was at a crossroads.
Korv plead with the clear desert sky for answers. “What do you want from me?” he asked, his eyes cast upward, while inwardly searching. “I literally heard a voice that said, ‘GO!,’” Korv says.
At the time, Korv laughed, thinking, “Where would I go?” He hadn’t been anywhere. It was then he heard the words, “Eugene, Oregon.”
“I didn’t even know it was a real place,” Korv says, “I went to work the next day and I looked it up. I thought, that’s weird I must have seen it in a movie.” But Korv watched for signs, “if I’m supposed to go this will happen or if I’m supposed to go that’ll happen,” he told himself.
Every single day, those things came to pass. So Korv and his family packed up and left for Eugene, where they’ve settled, investing deeply in writing and performing his original compositions.
The music Korv plays can only be described as Americana. Like a lot of teenagers in the `90s, Korv grew up listening to Pearl Jam and Nirvana, and you can hear a bit of Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder in Korv’s sonorous growl, “but when I would write, it would come out way more tender,” Korv remembers.
“I don’t even know where that came from. It wasn’t stuff that I would even listened to. Growing up and getting older, you find this genre of Americana, which is kind of like this mutt of music of all different kinds. That where I really found a home,” he says.
The edges of Korv’s first single, an ode to great American music called “When I get home from Memphis,” are hand-tinted with country music. “I heard the blues on Beale street, I drove overnight to Nashville,” he sings, his voice something like Van Morrison cut by whiskey.
Even so, Korv Found his home in the Americana scene. “It’s a little bluesy. It’s a little rocky,” and when Korv plays with his pedal steel player, people say, “Hey, I love that country song,” but country music’s not quite right either, he says.
More than anything, Korv is inspired by the music of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. “His songs shaped me the most: autobiographical to a degree, but more expounded in fiction,” he says.
In addition to his new single, “Oregon (The Land that I love),” Korv is working with Fortier on his debut album, mixing music he’s written since relocating to Oregon with songs from his past.
More than anything, though, Korv will continue to use his adopted home state of Oregon as a point of inspiration. “The promise land of this place Oregon. It’s fed me so much as far as my mind and my heart and writing,” Korv says, adding every day he continues to clarify his own vision of success.
“You have to rewrite what success is to you,” Korv says. “Success to me is, when I got in to play a show, I make a personal connection with a handful of people. I’ll sit down and hear about their life and talk back-and-forth. For me it’s about the personal connection with the audience and the people,” Korv says.
“Oregon (The Land that I love),” and ““When I get home from Memphis” are available now on all major music streaming services. Follow @RudolfKorv to stay up to date on Twitter.