July 21, 2010

spend half your life trying to turn the other half around


This Kathleen Edwards cover is just stunningly gorgeous. My good friend Dainon pointed me in the direction of his Salt Lake City musician friends Paul Jacobsen & The Madison Arm yesterday afternoon, and so I spent the rest of my next three hours at work intermittently working on a spreadsheet and clicking play every five minutes and twenty nine seconds.

The piano echoes as if this was recorded in a sad, empty room. My friend ruminated today, “Isn’t that song just like someone draws the curtains so they can hold you while you weep?” Depressing as hell, but yes. How is it that a piano can evoke feelings that no other instrument can even touch in me?

It feels something like Love is Hell-era Ryan Adams sitting in front of his piano, all the shiny gold country Americana stripped down, sanded off, and made more beautiful.

Six O’Clock News (Kathleen Edwards) – Paul Jacobsen & The Madison Arm

Six O’Clock News – Kathleen Edwards

Canadian Kathleen Edwards is a oft-overlooked musician whose 2003 album Failer I first read about in Nick Hornby’s Songbook. I remember she toured with John Doe a few years ago, and was also featured on the Elizabethtown soundtrack. I know I should dig deeper with her, if she can write songs like this.

Paul Jacobsen also did an interesting National cover that’s grown on me and into me like moss. The National is a hard band to cover. Where the original is elegant, restrained, baritone grace all throughout, on this cover I love how Paul’s voice raises in lament right after the 2:15-mark. It almost evokes Peter Gabriel to me.

Fake Empire (The National) – Paul Jacobsen & The Madison Arm

Paul Jacobsen & The Madison Arm (self-titled, 2008) is available now, and the Kathleen Edwards cover is from a Black Sessions EP, recorded “live on a bleak winter day.”

They run in the same musical circles as neighbors Jay Henderson and Band of Annuals, both of whom I’ve written about before. And if you’re in Salt Lake City, they are opening for Colin Hay on July 31.


  • Wow. I’ve heard the Kathleen Edward’s version about a million times, and I’ve always loved it, but this cover just made me cry. That’s not hard to do, but still.

    Mallory — July 21, 2010 @ 8:58 am

  • Damn! I saw some tweets from the Madison Arm about this cover yesterday. I’m glad I found the track. Thanks for posting it! Wow, this is a beautiful rendition of a great song. And please, DIG INTO Kathleen’s albums if you haven’t already. Pick up Asking for Flowers RIGHT NOW. Go back and get Back to Me and Failer. If you’re so inclined, head over to http://www.kathleenedwards.org, sign up for the forums, and hit the first forum and look for the sticky post. There is a link to her EP there as well. It’s well worth the trouble!

    Rick — July 21, 2010 @ 9:10 am

  • Paul Jacobsen and Kathleen Edwards have both been on my all-time favorites list for years so I about died when I heard this cover. If you haven’t checked Paul out yet, I think he’s one of the most underrated, revelatory songwriters out there right now. And he also puts on a hell of a show.

    Amy — July 21, 2010 @ 9:29 am

  • Wow. That’s a really lovely song. I’m glad you posted it. I saw it in your status message the other day and I really enjoyed it–by which I mean, I played it about 16 times–but now that I can download it, even better. Song obsessssion!

    Adrian — July 21, 2010 @ 10:05 am

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Adrian Bischoff, Eversilences. Eversilences said: spend half your life trying to turn the other half around: This Kathleen Edwards cover is just stunn… http://bit.ly/9AVdl7 (fuelfriends) [...]

    Tweets that mention spend half your life trying to turn the other half around | Fuel/Friends Music Blog -- Topsy.com — July 21, 2010 @ 10:06 am

  • Thanks for sending this song out into the ether. It’s awesome! I got to see Kathleen Edwards this past weekend at a beach-side bar on Cape Cod. She (and her band) were amazing; it’s great to see her mentioned here.

    Nadine — July 21, 2010 @ 10:43 am

  • Bon Iver covers Kathleen Edwards from time to time..I saw him do ‘Mercury’ last summer, twas excellent

    Billy Shaw — July 21, 2010 @ 10:54 am

  • Kathleen Edwards is so in your wheelhouse that I’m a bit surprised you are not more familiar with her. She does a lot of things well, but I like her best when she does things like this, which sound like something Lucinda Williams’ badass little sister might write.

    Bill — July 21, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

  • i LOVE seeing Paul get some notice…he is not only a talented musician but a stand up guy.

    katie clifford — July 21, 2010 @ 3:22 pm

  • I heard this yesterday and immediately sent it out to so many people. It is so good. Do spend more time with Kathleen Edwards. “Failer” meant a ton to me personally, but I love all her albums. She is also *great* live and does not tour enough, in my humble opinion. See her if you get the chance.

    Claire — July 21, 2010 @ 5:27 pm

  • Oh, and she sings with John Doe on his song, “Golden State” and it is *FANTASTIC* and I think totally up your alley. Check it out.

    Claire — July 21, 2010 @ 5:30 pm

  • She’s also doing some stuff with Jon Roderick of Long Winters fame


    herohill — July 22, 2010 @ 5:24 am

  • Great song and a great cover! It leaves me wondering about the rest things they have done! :D

    Martin Hansson — July 22, 2010 @ 10:15 am

  • Once again, Paul delivers the goods. Great interpretation. Makes me want to write some music.

    Nathan — July 22, 2010 @ 3:00 pm

  • Your sensibility does so remind me of Kathleen Edwards. If you want essential Kathleen, try: Back To Me–Summerlong–The Cheapest Key

    Nick — July 22, 2010 @ 9:55 pm

  • Love Kathleen Edwards and sadly I don’t think I really ever felt the true pain in this song until you posted this cover. And now when I listen to the original version, it’s like I really feel it now. So, double thanks :) Sometimes I think we don’t realize how casual our listening to music can be until we hear a cover that really knocks our socks off like a splash of water to the face saying “wake up! you’ve been missing out this whole time!”.

    meredith — July 22, 2010 @ 10:05 pm

  • thats a great cover, i really love kathleen edwards. ‘westby’and ’12 bellvue’ from the same album are magnificent tracks

    think john doe played her husband in the video for ‘in state’

    Ah Fong — July 23, 2010 @ 4:43 am

  • Wow… Like the first post, I’ve heard Kathleen’s version many, many times. I cried when I heard this version. Wow…

    George — July 23, 2010 @ 9:14 am

  • forgive my ignorance here, but where can I find and download this song and the rest of the Black Sessions EP?

    Billy Shaw — July 23, 2010 @ 10:17 am

  • The Wang agrees with all the gushing about Kathleen’s magnificence. If Ms. Edwards never recorded again, ‘Asking For Flowers’ could easily be the pinnacle of any artist’s career. ‘Alicia Ross’ is one of the most moving songs Bart has ever experienced (since it is based on a tragic true story). Kathleen lives in Bart’s town but he’s yet to see her live. Boo him! This cover is amazing!

    Bart Wang — July 23, 2010 @ 6:55 pm

  • @Billy Here’s the skinny on that Black Sessions EP … it was never actually officially released. I will say, however, that the adoration that came from this song being so widely accepted has led Paul and the band to reconsider and likely re-record. Early talks are that they’ll give that EP another stab in August.

    Dainon — July 26, 2010 @ 7:12 pm

  • Hockey Skates! Hockey Skates! Hockey Skates! (from ‘Failer’) You’ll love her forever.

    xury32 — July 27, 2010 @ 11:02 am

  • Ace!! Only heard Kathleen Edwards for the first time earlier this year, this track in fact, and fell in love right away….couldn’t believe I’d not heard before!

    This cover is achingly georgeous….as is Hockey Skates, referenced above!

    Joe — July 28, 2010 @ 3:34 am

  • I adore everything about this post! I have to admit that I got all giddy when I saw the lyric you used as the title. Kathleen Edwards was a big part of my music education back when “Failer” came out, and I still think that it’s one of the most important albums in my collection. I couldn’t possibly recommend her to you enough, Heather. Go see her live because she’s fabulous, and also because her guitarist is her slightly older husband who is a total DILF!

    I’ve never heard Paul Jacobsen before and this version just knocked my socks off… not to mention that National cover! They really pulled it off well. I’d love an mp3 of that if you have it.

    I noticed that someone mentioned Bon Iver also covering Kathleen Edwards. I posted the version that I heard at Sasquatch last year here (re-upped the links):


    Probably my favourite Kathleen Edwards song and he does such a beautiful job.

    Megan — July 28, 2010 @ 5:51 pm

  • i’ve missed you, Megan! :)

    browneheather — July 28, 2010 @ 5:53 pm

  • can someone pleeeeeease provide a way to download either or both of these tracks from paul jacobsen? they are simply gorgeous… so glad to have heard them.

    clark — August 9, 2010 @ 3:12 pm

  • hey clark, you just right click the file and select “Save As” – they are direct links to mp3s. and yes, they are simply gorgeous!

    browneheather — August 11, 2010 @ 9:53 pm

  • [...] Heather turned me on to this song. A cover of the Kathleen Edwards original, it stunned me. Built in a heartbreaking narrative, it’s so melancholy and yet so beautiful. It’s a great arrangement with near perfect harmonies. [...]

    ipickmynose: an indie, soul and oldies music blog » concentrated awesome: recent song obsessions, part 2 — August 27, 2010 @ 8:01 am

  • If anyone is looking for some more Kathleen Edwards, check Adam Duritz’s twitter feed @countingcrows today he tweeted 6 or 6 of her songs and you can download the mp3 from his twaudio or whatever. He’s been playing twitter DJ recently, it’s pretty cool.

    Kev N STL

    Kev n STL — December 2, 2010 @ 8:52 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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