Posts Tagged ‘Allison Krauss’


Sorrow and solitude
These are the precious things
And the only words
That are worth rememberin’

Townes Van Zandt, Nothin’


A kind of gray and glum Sunday morning, wet and cool. It has the feel of the season turning, of the green of the leaves to be soon fleeing. The deer outside my window are taking on their new dark winter coats, the beautiful rich reddish coats of summer gone leaving them to look like they have rolled in coal dust, grimy and gray.

But they carry it well.

Myself, I feel as gray and glum and grimy as the scene and I fear I don’t carry it as well as my dear deer.

But that’s okay.

These gray days aren’t pleasant but there is something of value in them. They make you feel something and that is an important thing. It sometimes feels like we live without feeling the moment. And even if the moment isn’t a glorious moment of elation, to feel anything– even sorrow and solitude– at any given time may be the the only gift we have in the precious time we spend in this world.

Like Townes says in the lyrics at the top. Or maybe Warren Zevon said it correctly in Ain’t That Pretty At All:

Going to hurl myself against the wall
‘Cause I’d rather feel bad than feel nothing at all 

On that note, let’s get to this Sunday morning music which is, of course, the song Nothin’ from the late great singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt. His voice is a bit of an acquired taste but on songs like this, its flat simplicity and plaintive tone are absolute perfection. One of my favorites from many that he wrote. I have also included a bit of a different version from the Grammy winning collaboration of Robert Plant and Allison Krauss. Plant’s falsetto set against the heavy crunch of Krauss’ electrified fiddle make it a powerful version.

Have a good Sunday.

PS: The painting at the top Exiles: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is a reminder that I will be giving an Art Talk this coming Thursday, September 12 beginning at 6 PM, at the Patterson Library Octagon Library in support of my Icons & Exiles exhibit that hangs there until September 20.

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I’m knee deep in work at the moment, mired in a really deep groove.  I use the word mired but it’s meant to have a good meaning here.  It’s one  of those grooves that I hope for, where everything seems to click right off the brush and there’s a rush of excitement as one piece nears completion and the next is already beckoning.   The funny thing is that it’s not a manic groove even though I may sound manic in describing it.  It’s calm and cool, a sense of clarity with all the fogs of uncertainty blown away.  It’s a feeling, a rhythm, that I know and lay in wait for, often for long frustrating periods.  But I know that if I struggle forward, it eventually comes.  I don’t think I will ever succeed in describing this groove, this rhythm.  probably because when I’m mired in it I struggle to write about painting, am lax in communicating anything for fear of upsetting this delicate  rhythm.  So I will stop here.

Here’s a song, one of my favorites, Killing the Blues.  Written by Rowland Salley, I first came across this song many years ago when John  Prine did his remarkable cover of it.  Since then I have discovered that it has become a standard of sorts, covered by numbers of musicians.  Last year, I featured a haunting version here from Allison Krauss and Robert Plant.  I found this version from Malcolm Holcolme that I really like.  See if you agree.

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Still in the act of getting work ready for the show in a couple of weeks.  It’s going pretty smoothly which I suppose it should after the years of doing this same routine.  It’s pretty exciting to see the work, especially those on paper, transform from the raw image to a fully presented piece with matting and frame.  Unmatted, the paintings have the exposed  beginnings of where the gesso of the surface begins as well as the rough edges of the paper itself.   The mat and frame focuses the piece and there’s a real sense of transformation once the piece is complete as though it has suddenly blossomed fully. 

So, I’m off to continue the transformation.  I thought I’d play a tune today, a wondeful version of an old John Prine song, Killing the Blues.  It’s from the unlikely  duo of  of bluegrass/folk star Allison Krauss and formerLed Zep frontman Robert Plant.  Just a great take on a great song.

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It’s a slow day waking up and I don’t have a lot to say.  I felt like hearing a quiet song this morning and came across The Wexford Carol, an 11th century Irish carol from Yo Yo Ma and Allison Krauss.  It’s a beautiful song that flows slowly and evocatively along.

I chose this older piece from several years back to accompany it.  The title, Night Flow, seems to fit and I could almost hear the distant sound of the pipes and strings when I looked at it.


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Far WatchI use a single bird sometimes in my paintings.  The most common meaning for me is of the bird being the watcher, overseeing everything.  It represents patience and wisdom in this case.

I see the bird most often as a hawk but sometimes it’s a crow.  I admire both, the hawk for its physical prowess and the crow for its intelligence.  I remember watching a group of crows chase a hawk and when it appeared the hawk had nowhere to go he started leading the crows upward in  long loops.  As he rose, the crows closed in and just as they were about on him he made this powerful dive that carried him from above the spot where I was on a hillside to a point in the valley below, nearly a mile away.  The crows couldn’t match the dive and were left so far behind they gave up the pursuit.  It was an impressive escape.

Sometimes the bird represents to me a type of memento mori, a reminder of our mortality.  The bird is still the watcher but more of a spirit guide.  

In the spirit of this meaning, I’m segueing into a video of the old gospel song I’ll Fly Away sung by Allison Krauss and Gillian Welch. It feature scenes from the movie from which was taken, the Coen Brothers’ O Brother Where Art Thou?, one of my favorites.  It’s one of those films where when I see it’s on television will turn in it at any point to see what point the movie is at.  I particularly like the look of the film, the way they pulled a lot of the color out, replacing it with a sepia tone that kind of gives it a dated look.  The title of the movie is taken from the great Preston Sturges  film, Sullivan’s Travels.  In it, Sullivan is a movie director of mainly comedies who wants to make a deep, socially conscious film chronicling the poor and downtrodden, to be titled O Brother Where Art Thou?  He sets out disguised as a tramp to get a first hand look at the conditions of the poor and encounters many obstacles along the way.  Ultimately, his film is not made.  That is, until the Coens took the baton and finished the job.  Both are great, great films.

Anyway, here’s I’ll Fly Away

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A Sense of Grace

Once Was Blind...You know, sometimes you forget in your day to day life to stop and just take in the moment, putting aside chores to simply breath.  To bask in the sunlight and look at the sky, to feel the world drift dreamily over you.  It’s at these moments that you realize the things you’ve been looking for for so long are imminent.  There is a sense of grace in this moment, one that is at once humbling and uplifting.

Grace doesn’t come in a thunderbolt.  Grace comes quietly like the sun shifting behind the clouds.  Like a shadow cast in the bright light of day.

To this end, here is a lovely piece of film set to Allison Krauss‘  version of Down In the River to Pray.  In the sound and imagery there is a sense of this grace…

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