Sunday Morning Coming Down

It’s been a tough week in the world of celebrity deaths; on Thursday it was announced that comedian Sean Lock had died – more on him later – and earlier in the week, with much less fanfare here in the UK, I learned when scrolling through Twitter that Nanci Griffith had passed away.

At the time of writing, at her own behest, the cause of death has not been announced, but Griffith had previously beaten both breast and thyroid cancer, so chances are that bastard has scored another heart-breaking victory.

Griffith was born in Seguin, Texas, and her career spanned a variety of musical genres, predominantly country, folk, and what she termed “folkabilly”. Although she was probably best known on this side of the pond as being the writer of Bette Midler’s 1990 smash-hit From a Distance, which went on to win the Grammy for Song of the Year in 1991, she also won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1994 for her 1993 recording, Other Voices, Other Rooms.

As a mark of the high esteem she was held in, she also record duets with the likes of Emmylou Harris, John Prine, Don McLean, Jimmy Buffett and Willie Nelson (to name but a few), and she contributed If These Old Walls Could Speak to the AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Country, a song which she co-wrote with the legendary Jimmy Webb.

I happened to pick up her (Grammy nominated) 1986 album The Last of the True Believers on vinyl a few weeks ago; it’s a thing of beauty, and I’d been meaning feature something from it ever since.

Griffith’s lyrical style is often story-telling, and nowhere is that more evident than here, on Love at the Five and Dime, lifted from the aforementioned album:

Nanci Griffith – Love At The Five And Dime

Another great one gone.

RIP Nanci.

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Morning all.

A quadruple header for you this morning.

A year or so ago, I went to see Evan Dando, he of Lemonheads fame, play at Union Chapel in Islington, probably one of my favourite venues, and which I mentioned in my recent post about Supergrass and Billy Bragg.

Dando’s set comprised of the usual mix of Lemonheads classics, stuff from his solo album, and a whole load of covers of Country songs, which I decided to track down.

This was one of them:


John Prine – Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness

I came away from the gig with a strange feeling relating to that song. I didn’t think I’d heard it before, and didn’t think I knew anything else by Prine, yet there was something familiar about it that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

A little internet research told me that Nanci Griffith had done quite a famous cover of it:


Nanci Griffith – Speed of the Sound of Loneliness

Nope, that wasn’t it.

A sweep of YouTube revealed an awful lot of people had recorded cover versions of varying quality. Pick of the bunch is this, not because it’s a particularly good version (it really isn’t), but because of the performer’s decision to apparently perform it minus clothes:

He’s really feeling it by the end of that, isn’t he? The song, I mean.

Just be grateful he doesn’t take a bow at the end.

Once the general sense of nausea had passed, a little more digging found this cover version, by a band most famous for providing the theme tune to The Sopranos, and a band my brother is always banging on about how great they are. Warning, they’ve authenticated their Brixton roots by adding a bit of effing and jeffing:


Alabama 3 – Speed of the Sound of Loneliness

Nope, not that either. Although, that would seem to be an example of Country trip hop, not a genre I even knew existed. Maybe I should pay attention to my brother a bit more often.

Anyway, eventually I gave up trying to work out what was bugging me about the song. I concluded I’d definitely not heard it before, and was pretty sure I didn’t know anything else by John Prine. I figured it was just one of those songs that seems familiar the first time you hear it, even though you’ve never heard it before.

And then, a few months later, I had a Eureka! moment, when this came on my iPod:


Kris Kristofferson – Jesus Was a Capricorn (Owed to John Prine)

And there it was: KK had been subtly trying to nudge me in the direction of Prine for years, and I hadn’t picked up on it.

By the way, when I say KK, I mean Kris Kristofferson, of course, and not former footballing journeyman and BBC pundit Kevin Kilbane.

More soon.