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.