It doesn’t happen often - but when it does, it is nothing short of magical. It’s the sort of thing that makes you really sit back and look at the wonder and complexity of our world and just be amazed by it all.
Music has always played an enormous role in my life. Each day has a soundtrack to it, and as far back as I can remember I’ve needed that track playing.
My older sister Erin and I used to play in my basement bedroom when we lived in Dix IL. I was 8 or 9, and we had this little stereo with a tape deck, record player, tuner, and input jack for a mic. We would spend hours playing “Radio DJ” - listening to music, recording it to tape, adding our thoughts and commentary. Working the same records again and again. My childhood was blessed to always have music - Bob Seeger, Queen, Elton John. Road trips with the same tapes playing over again and again.
When I turned 16 and got my first truck, it was a 1968 Chevy C-10 with a homemade wooden bed and pipes welded on for bumpers. In addition to the looks, it has a tape deck installed and some decent speakers. The bonus? The tape deck had a single tape stuck in it. 1984 (Van Halen album). Every trip to school, every drive to the Road House for work, every adventure that my 16-year-old self could take - the sounds track was that album, playing on repeat again and again.
Now and then I come across a new artist or song that brings all of that back to me. Something that reminds me of all of the different ways that music is still core to my day. Core to me.
A couple of days ago while listening to one of my John Prine playlists, YouTube went off the rails and started suggesting and playing other things that it thought I might like. Most of these things that did nothing for me and I ignored it all as background music until this cover of Dylan’s Boots of Spanish Leather came on.
About halfway into the song, it stopped me in my tracks. The vocal harmony. The violin. His pure voice. Her range. It was something special.
I ended up spending the rest of the day playing that song and video on repeat; wanting to soak every measure into my soul. It had knocked me off my chair. It was one of those moments.
A few days later I was finally able to move past just that cover and start getting into the rest of their catalog. Often with bands and covers like this - they strike gold - but it’s a one hit and done.
Not this time. As soon as I dug into the group's work - I came across a song that blew the cover away. “Take This Heart of Gold” - especially their live version recorded at Paste Studios in NY at the end of 2016. It’s nothing short of breathtaking. The video and seeing the interactions between them is just bonus material, but worth a close inspection. Seeing how they play off of each other and the moment that they have at 1:04 when she misses a queue. It makes the song as genuine as possible. Something that reaches into your body and leaves a mark.