May 3, 2010

All I know is I feel better when I sing (burdens are lifted from me)

rawlings welch

I’ll be traveling soon to California for the rest of this week, to celebrate the life and mourn the loss of my uncle who passed away this weekend. He had been sick for a while, but it still came as a shock.

Uncle Lew spent time in the Coast Guard when he was younger, on an ice-breaker ship up near Iceland. I remember the exotic excitement when he’d come home from a time at sea. One of my favorite pictures from when I was little is me standing in his giant boots with his blue sailor’s cap perched huge on my head. I’m laughing. The last time I saw Lew was this summer, when I returned from my own ocean voyage on a sailing ship. His eyes lit up as we talked about what it feels like out on the open seas. I saw in his eyes a vibrant spark that belied the man lying in the hospital bed. Even after all, tonight, I’m glad he’s free.

There’s a song I keep listening to these days. Last time I was in CA it was for happier circumstances, and I made it to Golden Gate Park to see these two harmonize in the sunshine under the eucalyptus trees.

David Rawlings and Gillian Welch were woven together musically somewhere before time began. This cover reinvents old (Neil Young) and new (Bright Eyes), from their recent Daytrotter session, and when Gillian’s harmonies come in, the effect is so bittersweet, warming up the edges of Conor Oberst’s sharp original to shades of sepia. All I know is I feel better when I sing.

Method Acting/Cortez The Killer – Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch

Method Acting – Bright Eyes

I’ll see Rawlings at Telluride Bluegrass Festival next month, and I have been hearing nothing but good things about his newest album A Friend of A Friend, where you can find a studio version of this same cover, as well as the song he co-write with Ryan Adams, “To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High),” and wonderful new songs. It’s good thinking music, good ale-sippin’ music.


  • So very sorry to hear of your loss, Heather. Condolences to you and your family. Hang on in there; your blog community is thinking of you.

    David — May 4, 2010 @ 7:33 am

  • You can never be fully prepared for a loss, it’s a great thing when you can celebrate someone’s life at the time of their passing.

    Christopher — May 4, 2010 @ 8:31 am

  • Heather -
    I’m very sorry for your loss and your family’s loss. It’s so wonderful you shared a few of your memories with us, thank you! God speed to your uncle Lew and his next adventures.

    jimbo — May 4, 2010 @ 8:50 am

  • Sorry to hear about your uncle.

    A great grief is a tremendous bonfire in which all the trash of life is consumed.
    - Clare Booth Luce

    A while back, Rosanne Cash shared some meaningful words and music about her own loss on NPR, and I’ve found them helpful:

    As for David Rawlings and Gillian Welch, thanks for the Daytrotter link, and if you missed it, here they are on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert.

    Maine Character — May 4, 2010 @ 8:05 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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