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Wilbert Weijer— Taking the road trip of our lives

Hailing from the Netherlands, Wilbert Weijer discovered the simplicity of music through singer-songwriter Neil Young. Today, Wilbert records and performs his distinct style of audio storytelling with just an acoustic guitar and his voice.
December 6, 2017
  • Wilbert Weijer
  • Wilbert Weijer
  • Wilbert Weijer
  • Wilbert Weijer
“I take inspiration basically from stuff that happens in my life or from what surrounds me. So, a song might be about something happy or sad that I experience, or it could be about nature. When something like that becomes fully realized in my mind, and it feels really great, then I sit down and see if I can capture those feelings in a song.”

Taking the road trip of our lives

Wilbert Weijer
Wilbert Weijer weaves beautiful and at times haunting lyrics that make up what he calls “the road trip of our lives.”

Carrying on the singer-songwriter tradition built on the shoulders of individuals such as Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, Wilbert Weijer of the Computational Physics and Methods group (CCS-2) can sometimes be found at local venues such as Upper Crust Pizza or on a Santa Fe radio show playing his acoustic guitar and singing songs crafted from what he calls “the road trip of our lives,” which brings with it love and loss, happiness and sadness and hope and desperation.

“I picked up the guitar in my early twenties,” remembers Wilbert. “It was Neil Young who taught me that it does not take a perfect voice or impeccable technique to move someone to tears; sometimes all it takes is a song from the heart.”

Embracing the spark of creativity

Wilbert Weijer performs with his string quartet.Wilbert Weijer (left, standing) performs with his string quartet.

As a youngster growing up in the Netherlands, Wilbert learned to play the violin and in high school took up the viola. During his college years, he played in a string quartet and had the opportunity to perform in several full orchestras. Even though these experiences were fun, Wilbert found classical music a limiting medium.

“Playing such instruments is only fun when you play them in a group,” Wilbert explains. “I did manage to exercise some creativity, such as when I wrote a couple of original pieces for my quartet or arranged ‘The Great Gig in the Sky,’ a Pink Floyd song. But what I really wanted to do with music was to use it more as an expressive tool for myself rather than as a group. I heard one of my friends play a song by Neil Young, so then I started listening to his music. It was Young’s music that made me realize that this approach was something that I really wanted to try.”

Having been grounded in technical performance, Wilbert found Young’s simple but emotional approach to crafting music liberating. “I mean, here’s a guy who uses relatively simple guitar chords, and he does not sing very well, but the emotion that comes through in his words is something that really drew me to his music. I too wanted to create songs that could reach out and touch someone.”

The road trip comes alive

Wilbert with instrument

Like other forms of writing, crafting a song can be a long, difficult process, but one that pays great rewards.

 “For me, a song must be driven by something I feel strongly about, and such an idea could fester in my mind for about six months or so before I start writing it out,” says Wilbert. “First I develop the lyrics. I worry about the melody and the music later.”

In 2016, Wilbert made his publication debut with the full-length album titled Road Trip of Our Lives. He recorded the 16 songs on the album on his home computer, noting that “they display all the imperfections of an amateur recording—but the songs come from the heart.”

The themes on this album hint at folk music, with Wilbert limiting himself to an acoustic guitar and voice. The opening song, “Happy Go Lucky,” is pristine storytelling, capturing the joys and angst of a daughter and her wise father. An undercurrent of sadness comes through, but it is always balanced with the simplicity of everyday joys. Another song, the Dylanesque “High Desert Rainstorm,” is a love story set to the backdrop of what is the essence of New Mexico. Then there’s “Carry the Woman,” one of the most powerful tracks on the CD. 

“It’s a very personal song,” says Wilbert. “I wanted to capture a time when I was not responding well to my partner. Writing this song made me face some truths—it made me come to terms with who you love and to make sure that you always express that love.”

Although he has not yet secured a record contact or formally recorded any material, Wilbert is not concerned. “I am happy where I am at,” he says. “I remain free.”

 album cover
Wilbert Weijer works as a climate scientist for the Computational Physics and Methods Group (CCS-2). He is the project leader for HiLAT, the High Latitude Application and Testing of Climate Models project.

Wilbert Weijer works as a climate scientist for the Computational Physics and Methods Group (CCS-2). He is the project leader for HiLAT, the High Latitude Application and Testing of Climate Models project.


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