Friday, November 23, 2007

Thankful Folk:
A Thanksgiving Holiday Special




The web is full of Thanksgiving originals this week: Alice's Restaurant, Loudon Wainwright III's Thanksgiving, songs about helping others, the odd song about pie or turkey. Here at the Boyhowdy House, we're feeling grateful for a few choice folk-tinged coversongs of thanks and blessing-counting that stand out in a small pond of hymns and secular songs just right for the season. Without further ado, here's some particularily Thankful Folk.

  • Chris Smither, Thanks To You (orig. Jesse Winchester)
    The opening cut from previously featured Chris Smither's powerful, well-produced Small Revelations, this cover just plain rocks, from the first bass growl (I know I'm a sinner/I ain't no beginner) to the last sustained blues lick.

  • Erin McKeown, Thanks For The Boogie Ride (orig. Buck/Mitchell)
    This short, crisp boogie-woogie tune from diminuative-yet-powerful folkartist Erin McKeown comes from Sing You Sinners, her full album of old Tin Pan Alley tunes. You can hear her infectious grin throughout.

  • Dave Van Ronk, God Bless The Child (orig. Billie Holiday)
  • Eva Cassidy, God Bless The Child (orig. Billie Holiday)
    Two blues versions of this Holiday tune from two very different folk artists stolen from this world far too soon. Dave Van Ronk's slow, bluesy solo acoustic fingerpick and Eva Cassidy's electrified loungeclub blues swoon make the perfect counterpart. Off Your Basic Dave Van Ronk and American Tune, respectively.

  • Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem, The Farmer Is The Man(orig. J. Carson)
    A mournful paean for the oft-invisibles who bring our table's bounty and a gruff, loose-fiddled reminder to those who would forget. From Gambling Eden, which, like most of Arbo's work, is chock full of wonderful interpretations of old folk and gospel tunes. (Buy before 2008, get free shipping! And 10% of all profits go to Rock and Roll camp for girls!)

  • Sufjan Stevens, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing (trad.)
    My absolute favorite hymn, ever since I heard Sufjan's five-EP set Songs For Christmas last year. Our hymnal lists this song as a hymn of Thanksgiving, so there's no need to wait a month to hear the beautifully torn banjo-jangle plainsong approach Sufjan brings to it.



As always here on Cover Lay Down, wherever possible, all artist/album links above go to that artist's preferred purchase source. Help make some artist thankful -- buy their music today!


Psst! Looking ahead towards our next holiday? I usually try to hold off on celebrating too early, but yesterday, on our way home from an authentic 1830s Thanksgiving feast, we passed a family cutting down trees and putting up reindeer, and it reminded me of a song lyric. So stay tight until Sunday for our first post of the 2007 holiday season: a Single Song Sunday feature on Joni Mitchell's River.

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