Sunday, June 1, 2008

Rainsongs:
Folk Covers for a Stormy Night

Written last night in a rainstorm's aftermath. Posted this morning in bright dappled sunlight.



They say April showers bring May flowers, but I'm not so sure. This evening's thunderstorm was a big one, and in our end-of-the-wire rural existence, even when the power stays on, thunder knocks our 'net connectivity for a loop. Meanwhile, now that the trees have finally filled in, our newly-terraformed backyard doesn't seem to be getting more than a few hours of sun each day; as a consequence, we're having trouble getting flowers to do much of anything back there.

I've got dozens of posts half-formed and half-written, in my mind and on the screen: new and beloved artists to feature, a long-overdue return to our Covered In Kidfolk series, a few great songwriters to rediscover through folk covers. But writing this with a waning battery and no 'net access means being shut off from my usual research materials. And in the darkness, the sounds of rain pattering against the leaves, punctuated by the intermittent gutterball of thunder, are sweeter than any music I could play – so sweet, it's hard to think about anything but the world outside.

Instead, I spent the last hour watching the flowerbeds all but wash away, and the muddy water wash the fill from between the flagstones. The rain against the windows turned the yard beyond into an everchanging pointilist dream. And I lost the thread of anything but the present.

Some rainstorms disrupt; some destroy; others help things grow. All involve chaos, in their own way; even if it is only because rain challenges our default image of the world outside as inherently sunny and easily navigable. Here's a playlist compiled quickly, in the dark, and researched only afterwards: a set of coversong, from the usual wide variety of folk artists and singer-songwriters, that celebrates storms both real and metaphoric.



Previously on Cover Lay Down:

  • Single Song Sunday: Rain and Snow

  • 22 comments:

    sssssssssstu said...

    awesome. thanks.
    Edie's Hard Rain was a mix-tape staple for me for years, still love it. Never heard that Central Rain cover before: nice. Your post made me think of "It Stoned Me", surely there is a good cover of that somewhere :).

    Peter N said...

    Great post, love the Grant Lee Phillips tune....always a pleasure to read your post esp in glorious June irish Sunshine!

    Chris in Happy Valley said...

    So Central Rain is one of my favorite R.E.M. songs. I've never heard the Phillips cover and was prepared to be underwhelmed. I am surprised.

    The Neko Case cover is beautiful!

    ekko said...

    Redbird are awesome. What ever happened to them?

    boyhowdy said...

    Glad to see some consensus on the Grant Lee Phillips cover, here -- it is one of my very favorite coversongs, hands down.

    Ekko: Redbird were pretty much a one-shot collaboration: a single album and a year of touring to promote it. The three artists involved continue to play gigs and record as solo artists, and lend a hand to each other when asked; I saw Mulvey and Delmhorst as part of a song swap in the early winter, and they played on each others' songs plenty. I HIGHLY recommend the solo stuff from all three. And Delmhorst and Foucault are now married, I believe; she's due to give birth any day now.

    muruch said...

    Wonderful selection. I rarely download mp3s anymore, but I nabbed a few this time. I love Grant, Joan & Edie.

    Btw, in regard to your other post about "freak folk" - since you've come 'round to Joanna Newsom, I highly recommend Gabriela Kulka (friend of mine), Anais Mitchell, Mariee Sioux, and Alela Diane. I don't think any of them have recorded folk covers (though Gabriela did a love version of Sting's "Russians" among other covers), but they all have a quirky style. I prefer each of them to Newsom.

    Tim said...

    Hey, just discovered your blog doing a Google search for James Taylor's cover of "A Change is Gonna Come." (Found it! Didn't think there was a recording available - just saw him do it on The West Wing.) Anyways, IRT this post, thought you should know (if you didn't already) that the Wood Brothers have a great cover of Buckets of Rain on their newest album, Loaded.

    Great blog! I'll check back more often.

    boyhowdy said...

    I actually went hunting for the song myself after seeing it on West Wing first time around; I'm glad to see I was able to return the favor.

    Haven't heard the Wood Brothers album yet, but if the stunning Jimi Hendrix cover with Amos Lee on vocals that was hitting the blogs a few weeks ago is any indication, the whole album should be worth getting.

    Thanks for coming by, Tim! Come back anytime!

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