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Gillian Welch & David Rawlings: Dear Someone

For my second selection I’ve chosen “Dear Someone” from the album Time (The Revelator) by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. They are both credited for writing this song, but some internet digging actually revealed that they actually were not the original writers of the tune, which was written by Ry Cooder. He wrote “I always knew you were the one” for the 1980 film The Long Riders. They did write the words, though, and added some great harmonies too. The first time I heard this song I played it on repeat for days. Thankfully CDs are no longer a thing, or I would’ve worn my out a long time ago. The way Gillian Welch and David Rawlings weave their voices together — it’s magical. The words are beautiful and match the wistfulness of the tune perfectly. If I ever marry I’m pretty sure I want to dance to this song at my wedding.

“Dear Someone” Gillian Welch & David Rawlings

“I always knew you were the one” Ry Cooder

Song of the Day: January 27

unnamedThis week our SoTD curator is composer David T. Little who will host and curate the opening evening of NYFOS Next 2016 on February 4th. Little’s operas Soldier Songs and Dog Days have received wide critical acclaim, the latter having received performances this season at Fort Worth Opera and Los Angeles Opera and hailed by The Wall Street Journal as “one of the most exciting new operas of recent years.” Little’s “sharp, elegantly bristling” music (New York Magazine) is potent and dramatic, drawing as much upon his experience as a punk/metal drummer as his classical pedigree. Thank you and welcome, David!

Entrancing and meditative, “I Dream A Highway” ends Gillian Welch’s 2001 album Time (The Revelator). I first heard it in 2004 or so, and it has been one of the most important pieces in my life ever since, in any genre. The song itself feels like a ritual. It repeats the same few chords for much of its 15-minute duration, with a repetitive form, but for an occasional and very brief deviation. But within this are infinite minor details: subtle orchestration changes, slightly evolving harmonies–both in voices and guitar–a tempo that gradually slows throughout, while it continually gets softer. It would be a perfect lullaby if it didn’t hold my attention so powerfully.

The lyrics are gorgeous, and play with images across time, in which the profound is drawn from the ordinary. I find lines like “Now you be Emmylou and I’ll be Gram,” “I’m an in-disguisable shade of twilight,” and “Step into the light poor Lazarus…Let me see the mark Death made,” to be beautifully mysterious and evocative, requiring certain keys to unlock their meaning. The fade-out at the end, usually a kind of songwriter cop-out, here feels like a suggestion that the work continues on into eternity, getting ever slower and ever softer.

Gillian Welch (b.1967) – I Dream A Highway (2001)

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