October 5, 2010

this is an old song, these are old blues

danny malone

As much as I tried to appreciate the music of Joanna Newsom, her childish mew always made me feel a bit like I was watching Sesame Street, and I stalled each time I tried. But she is no doubt an intensely poetic, smart lyricist, and I found today that hearing her song “Sadie” covered by Texas artist Danny Malone finally brings it out somewhere that I can dig into it.

Danny Malone is from Austin, and this cover is a few years old, off his I Am Not Alive EP. His raw tenor with a hint of warble reminds me of Conor Oberst, or Nate Ruess from The Format (coming to Boulder next Friday with fun.!), both artists I enjoy immensely. The gal who recommended I listen to this cover said, “I didn’t decide that I liked it until the second time through,” but me, the affinity was more immediate.

Disguised as a rambling alt-country tune, this builds and then explodes like some sort of orange sunrise. But hell — what a sad song.

Sadie (Joanna Newsom cover) – Danny Malone

This is an old song, these are old blues
and this is not my tune, but it’s mine to use
and the seabirds where the fear once grew
will flock with a fury and they will bury what’d come for you

And all that I want, and all that I need
and all that I’ve got is scattered like seed
and all that I knew is moving away from me
and all that I know is blowing like tumbleweed

And the mealy worms in the brine will burn
in a salty pyre among the fauns and ferns
And the love we hold, and the love we spurn
Will never grow cold, only taciturn…


  • The Decemberists covered her “Bridge and Balloons”. Granted Colin Meloy’s voice can be almost as grating as Newsom’s, but it’s a beautiful song and nice to hear through a different voice. You can find the cover on The Believer’s 25th Issue Compilation.

    Aaron Golbeck — October 5, 2010 @ 6:43 pm

  • This version is more grating than the original. Those voice breaks are at least normal and expected for Joanna. The long versed repetitive chord structure of this song really didn’t lend itself to a rock rendition either, as you can tell they tried to break it up towards the end and failed. Also, I felt that he wasn’t hearing the words he was singing or putting any feeling into them at all. Jovially singing along to a song about mortality doesn’t do it for me.

    Damian — October 5, 2010 @ 7:19 pm

  • I completely agree about Newsome. I really tried to like her, especially after the great Van Dyke Parks worked with her on Ys, but that voice is just too grating.

    Ken F. — October 6, 2010 @ 8:48 am

  • This is a lovely take on the song. I, too, have an almost impossible time with Newsome despite her obvious songwriting talent. I always really love when there is a cover song that you feel captures the essence of the song better than the original (whether it be voice or arrangement or just ‘feel’). I can think of a few in addition to this that I enjoy in that way:
    ‘Graceland’- Tallest Man on Earth
    ‘The River’- Josh Ritter
    ‘The Park’- Bon Iver
    ‘Bullet’- Scarlett Johansson & Steel Train (odd cause they helped)
    ‘I’m on Fire’- AA Bondy

    Adam — October 6, 2010 @ 11:04 am

  • Heather, did you know M. Ward has covered ‘Sadie’ too?

    Ads — October 6, 2010 @ 11:12 am

  • I love Newsom even with the little kid voice, but on her latest album, it sounds like she took singing lessons, and that affectation is nearly gone. You might be able to stand her now. ;-)


    George Davis — October 6, 2010 @ 7:43 pm

  • The only way to listen to Joanna Newsom is to be in the most sparkling good mood. Put on her music and then flit about the house doing enjoyable things, only then can her “childish mew” be truly appreciated. Her voice sounds amazing in a live setting but only if you can take your concentration away from her amazing harp plucking.

    davros — October 8, 2010 @ 6:27 pm

  • I’ve tried to like her too, and the way that I just can’t is about the same as the way I can’t get into Dan Bejar. But I love her voice in “Right On” on the Roots album from this year, it is so perfect and strange and funky. Listening to her original (“book of right on”) on a live youtube vid, it’s so cool how they picked up on the beat inherent in the harp part in the bass and drum parts. That’s as close as I can come to appreciating her so far…

    Katie — October 22, 2010 @ 10:30 pm

  • Go Danny Malone. Have you heard his recent demos? Great stuff. http://acrblog.tumblr.com/post/2583492917/please-somebody-make-danny-malone-huge-in-2011

    Jayd McFerson — January 4, 2011 @ 9:35 am

Comments RSS

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Subscribe to this tasty feed.
I tweet things. It's amazing.

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.

View all Interviews → View all Shows I've Seen →