Day Three folks. Day Three.
We offer up a fiver of covers today (again) and not to disappoint, they are keeping pace my friends. We have seen some pretty darn great covers thus far and who knows, we may be hitting our stride on hump day here. Today brings Doc Feldman (w/ Tree Jackson), a Singer of Songs, Pickering Pick, Tyler Butler and The River Has Many Voices!
Doc Feldman opens up today with his cover of The Brute Choir of Will Oldham’s Palace Music days. Doc indicated that this recording is totally DIY with one acoustic guitar and both vocals into a stereo microphone and digital recorder…all recorded ‘bedroom’ style, of course. There is lovely accents from Tree Jackson of the band Small Batch included as well.
The main reason why “The Brute Choir” was chosen is because I’ve just always been fascinated by its apparent darkness. I’m always cautious about trying to interpret any song’s meaning too closely, but this one stands out to me as particularly disturbing. The song seems to be sung from the perspective of a rapist. I picture a soldier, a man among other soldiers. The author appears to be wrestling now in some way with what he’s done as he listens to the other men of his troupe rape the same girl. He’s torn. On the one hand he feels like howling with them, while on the other the sounds won’t let his sleep. At the end there appears to be sweet relief when the choir is finally quiet. It’s a horrifying account of perhaps the worst aspects of humanity… power, abuse, indifference. Perhaps just as disturbing is the way the singer appears ALMOST human in his possible feelings of guilt, yet in the end they’re likely merely surface musings.
It’s a song that scares me, and I like art that can do that. There aren’t many songwriters willing to plunge these types of depths, but Will Oldham does it on a number of occasions, and when he does, it can be a mind blowing experience for us as an audience. At least I know it is for me.
Pickering Pick is a long time favourite around Slowcoustic HQ. I can honestly say that this guy is the real deal, a true talent and all around great guy – I even am lucky enough to call him a friend (if I may be so bold). New Partner finds the Pickering Pick treatment this time (Sam also recorded for our J. Tillman Cover Project). The photo above was during his ‘fleshing out’ of the cover song, that turns out to be more of a piano ballad than acoustic guitar affair. A nice decision, me thinks.
a Singer of Songs was one of the very first musicians ever posted on this blog years ago. Lieven Scheerlinck sings of Barcelona for us. A song that, for him, now makes sense in it’s own way coming from someone who actually lives in Barcelona. Go figure. In his own words (as they are much better than mine):
When I moved from the cold North to warm Barcelona almost 16 years ago, one of the things that struck me the most was the way people looked at each other. Unlike Belgians people are not afraid of eye contact here in the South. They look you straight in the eye without fear. Which is pretty confusing at the beginning. I remember being on the subway a couple of months after settling here. I was reading a book when I noticed the weight of eyes on me. So I look up and this beautiful girl is looking straight at me. No fear. No shyness. Just straightforward eye contact. So of course as a good northerner I looked down immediately. My hands started to sweat. I looked back up, and there she was, still staring. Something like a faint smile on her lips. I look back down. Try to read, but the words had become a blur. For about ten stops this game held on. Until at Plaza Cataluña she gets up and goes to the door while the train pulls up at the station. I look up, and there is, still looking. The doors open, I remain seated, she walks away, out of my life.
But I couldn’t forget that gaze, those eyes. What if this was true love? What if she was the one? In that time I was still working the early morning shift cleaning in a perfume shop from 5 to 10 am, so I had nothing much to do for the rest of the day. So I decided to do the same subway route at the same time every day from then on. She looked like a student, so I supposed she had to go back to class. Take the subway. For more than two weeks I drove that same route every day. Pretending to read my book, looking out for her in my sly northern way. I was just about to give up (and run out of money, subway tickets weren’t that cheap and I made a lousy pay check at the shop), when all of a sudden… There she was. She sat down only a few rows from me, so I got up and sat down right in front of her. She was reading the newspaper this time. I pretended to be reading, looking up every few seconds, waiting for to look up for the first time. One station. Two stations. She didn’t look up. The stations went by one by one and she didn’t look up from her paper. When the train rode into the Cataluña station she got up, quickly glanced in my direction and… just walked away without as much a hint of recognition. And thus she walked away, this time for good. I was heart broken over her for weeks.
So when I heard this Will Oldham song some months after that, I fully recognized what he was singing about. The confusion of Barcelona. It’s not even close to being one of his best songs, but it has accompanied me during these past 16 years. And when I played the song live in Italy a few months back this fellow came up to me after the show and told me he had been in Barcelona twice with a girlfriend, and the exact same thing as the story told in the song happened to him (minus the throwing the girlfriend out the window of course). Twice! So yes, I do think I can say it is scientifically proven that Barcelona is a confusing place love-wise.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the music.
Not unlike Sam Pickering Pick above, Tyler Butler is someone that I have worked with in the past and in fact I know IN REAL LIFE. I know, in this world of internet connections and a wide world of musicians, who actually meets people anymore. Well TB is a great guy who is always game for some cover song making. He brings Ohio Riverboat Song, that also like Pickering Pick is a Palace Music track. This one is a more classic folk style with delicate finger picking and done in a lone troubadour style.
A new favourite for me is The River Has Many Voices. This is a good thing as he is closing out today’s post with an amazing version of You Will Miss Me When I Burn. An all time best of Oldham’s in my opinion, so I was excited when this cover song came into my life. Expertly done and ever so lightly haunting rendition from Matthew Payne (TRHMV). In a good way. Kudos
Will Oldham has kept me company for many years. He was there at the beginning, when I was learning about songwriting, and he has remained a mystery to me. This song is one of many of his that I’ve kept close.
Day Three is done, but not without 5 more excellent additions to the cover project. Did I mention that I am one of the luckiest bloggers out there due to things like this?