Gettin’ Twangy, Sister (Music for Mondays)

Frank and I have so much fun with this regular feature we might have to make it a daily affair. Well, maybe not. We’ve had chants, polyphony, Christian rockers, and just plain rockers in recent weeks. It’s time to get twangy with some of America’s top country and bluegrass ladies, each of whom has something to say to the spirit. Last week, I did a post on Mary Gauthier’s lovely tune “Mercy Now,” recorded at the Grand Old Opry. Here’s a quartet of tunes that make good company for that one and may just rain a little more mercy down on us all.

Gillian Welch, “Orphan Girl
You’d never guess she’s a native New Yorker, playing here with her longtime musical partner David Rawlings. By the way, the G in Gillian is hard, as in “Gilligan’s Island”—

I am an orphan on God’s highway
But I’ll share my troubles if you go my way
I have no mother no father
No sister no brother
I am an orphan girl

I have had friendships pure and golden
But the ties of kinship I have not known them
I know no mother no father
No sister no brother
I am an orphan girl

But when He calls me I will be able
To meet my family at God’s table
I’ll meet my mother my father
My sister my brother
No more orphan girl

Blessed Savior make me willing
And walk beside me until I’m with them
Be my mother my father
My sister my brother
I am an orphan girl

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Nanci Griffith, “From a Distance”
Bette Midler went platinum with this tune by Julie Gold, but long before that, my little daughters and I used to sing along with Nanci Griffith on the tape player in the beloved old Blue Bomber, and at the top of our lungs—so that’s the version you get here.

God is watching us, from a distance . . . 

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Alison Krauss and Union Station, “A Living Prayer”
Their version of “There is a Reason” is even better for my money, but You Tube won’t let you embed it. So you’ll have to click here for that one.

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The Wailin’ Jennys, “Glory Bound”
This Canadian trio—Ruth Moody, Nicky Mehta, and Heather Masse—is one of my favorite finds on Pandora Radio, and Lordy knows, they’re headed in the right direction:

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Allison Krauss and Gillian Welch, “I’ll Fly Away”
And you thought they were already good on their own—they are even better together! The duo combined forces and was featured on the O Brother Where Art Thou movie soundtrack. Frank really likes it and snuck it in at the last second.

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  • EPG

    I actually _hate_ the song "From a Distance." Insipid melody, trite lyrics (and, believe me, I like a lot of what Nanci Griffith has recorded). The lyrics are about as far from a Christian understanding of God as I can imagine. "God is watching us from a distance"? — What about the Incarnation, what about "I will be with you always"? This song might describe a Deist's God.As Frank might say, "Sheesh!":)

  • Webster Bull

    That's pretty harsh, brother EPG! :-) Actually, I fell in love with this song when my daughters were 3 and 5, and I was as far from church as a man can be. So for God to pop up in the middle of the lyrics was like a little bell going off in the back of my mind, I think.There are virtues in distance, too. Like being 34,000 feet above "the grid" and seeing the world with more perspective, less mud.But vive la difference!

  • EPG

    Probably a _little harsh_, but then, it's hard to convey the arched eyebrow in a post. Here's the thing, when I first heard the song, I liked it. But the more I heard it . . . I know this post was dedicated to twangy women, but, if you're going to look at twang, and are going off the mainstream Nashville circuit, you should check out Jimmy Dale Gilmore. A seriously good songwriter and recording artist. Native of Lubbock, works out of Austin. I read once that he might have been a Buddhist (if I recall correctly), but he has a song with a chorus which could come straight out of St. PaulMy mind has a mind of its own,Takes me out a walkin' when I'd rather stay at home,Takes me out to parties when I'd rather be alone, Oh my mind has a mind of its own.There's also a lyricKeep doing things I thought I'd never do,Keep getting into trouble without ever meaning to . . . Funny how weird stuff, from weird sources, resonates.

  • Webster Bull

    EPG, Only disqualifier for Jimmy Dale is, he's a guy. But let's get up a list of Twangy Guys for next time. Any other suggestions?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16021781602272064901 Allison

    Ralph Stanley!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16021781602272064901 Allison

    ("The Roses will bloom")no matter how long the winter has been

  • Anonymous

    I love Allison Krauss and the Wailin Jennys! They also have a great song about death called Long Time Traveler and a beautiful rendition of an Irish song called Parting Glass. Also-for a folksy group, look up the innocence mission (they're Catholic)

  • Maria

    What a delight. Orphan Girl is a beaut. These were all stellar. Thanks guys.


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