Monday, November 29, 2010

Traditional Music At Its Best

Category: 50 Songs to Hear

This is one of two songs that has two different versions in its review (the other is "Train Leaves Here This Morning," by both Dillard & Clark and the Eagles, in rock). Each version is superlative, which is why they are both mentioned.

SONG: Winter's Come and Gone
ARTISTS: Gillian Welch; Dailey & Vincent
SONGWRITER: Gillian Welch
ALBUMS: Hell Among the Yearlings; Brothers From Different Mothers
YEAR/LABEL: 1998, Acony; 2009, Rounder

It can be so valuable to be an outsider.
(Gillian Welch)

Gillian Welch has emerged as one of the best singer-songwriters of the past decade. Dailey and Vincent have quickly become the dominant band of bluegrass.  They have met musically twice:  the opening salvo of Dailey & Vincent's career after the two men joined up from their tenures in Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, respectively, was the gospel masterpiece "By the Mark," which Welch wrote, and this song.

The song is a pure delight, a simple song with the three choruses aimed at three different birds: a redbird, a bluebird, and a blackbird.  While each verse is sung to the individual birds with a feel of the winter drabs ("been so lonesome shaking that morning chill"), the chorus turns to joy, reminding everyone that the return of the birds signals the return of spring:  "winter's come and gone, a little bird told me so."

This is a totally enjoyable song.  So are either of these two acts.

"By the Mark" (from Dailey & Vincent) -- another Gillian Welch composition that Dailey & Vincent recorded. This was their first hit and set their career on its successful course.
The entire Dailey & Vincent Sing the Statler Brothers album -- Dailey & Vincent manage to pull off an almost impossible feat: performing a tribute to the Statler Brothers that simultaneously presents the songs in a fresh light without being a note-for-note copy.
The entire Singing From the Heart album -- twelve a cappella gospel songs showing that the human voice is one of the best instruments in a band.

"Caleb Meyer" (from Hell Among the Yearlings) -- not for the squemish, rapist Caleb gets exactly what he deserves in this gem that a friend describes as "payback for all those 'Pretty Polly' songs in bluegrass."
"By the Mark" (from Revival) -- the Dailey & Vincent version is great, and so is the original.
"I'll Fly Away" (from the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack) -- a stunning version of the classic gospel song.
"I Want to Sing That Rock and Roll" (from Time [The Revelator]) -- how can a song called "I Want to Sing That Rock and Roll" sound like a Carter Family song?  Listen and see.

Where Do I Go to Throw a Picture Away
When My Rowboat Comes In
When I Lift Up My Head
Rose of My Heart
Rock of Ages, Hide Thou Me
Our Town
Old Memories Mean Nothing to Me
Not That I Care
Nobody Eats at Linebaugh's Anymore
My Book of Memories
Lost to a Stranger
A Little Bitty Heart
Life Has Its Little Ups and Downs
Life is Too Short
I Want a Home in Dixie
I Lost Today
Down to the River to Pray
Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyeballs
A Death in the Family
Dark as a Dungeon
Bottomless Well

Train Leaves Here This Morning
Swallowed By the Cracks
Stealin' Time
Starting Tomorrow
Sleep's Dark and Silent Gate
She's a Runaway
Painted Bells
Out to Sea
One More Song
New Delhi Freight Train
Long Way Home
Heart of Rome
Harriet Tubman's Gonna Carry Me Home
Entella Hotel
Desperados Under the Eaves
Crossing Muddy Waters
Cliffs of Dooneen
Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow)
Baby Mine

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