John Prine is releasing a new album The Tree of Forgiveness, which features the first single, “Summer’s End.” Any John Prine album is cause for celebration, but The Tree of Forgiveness is extra special because it will be the singer-songwriter’s first album of new material in thirteen years.
The new album contains ten songs written or co-written by Prine. The co-writers include Pat McLaughlin, Roger Cook, Dan Auerbach, Keith Sykes and Phil Spector. Also, the album features special guests Brandi Carlile (harmony vocals on some songs), Jason Isbell (guitar), and Amanda Shires (fiddle and background vocals).
Prine released the first single, “Summer’s End,” with an accompanying video. Joshua Britt and Nielson Hubbard edited and directed the video, which highlights the lyrics.
In the song, which may allude to death as much as the ending of summer, Prine beckons the listener to “come on home.” So, check out “Summer’s End,” which was written by Prine and Pat McLaughlin.
When Brandi Carlile released her song “The Story” on the album of the same name in 2007, the song immediately became a “pullover” song for me. In other words, the song is so moving that if you first hear it in the car, you have to pull over to do nothing else but listen to it.
The fact that the song was later used in a television show (Grey’s Anatomy) and TV commercial (General Motors) did nothing to reduce the power of the song. Other artists, like Sara Ramirez and LeAnn Rimes, have covered the song, although the original still remains the definitive version.
But now Carlile is revisiting her entire 2007 breakthrough album with other artists covering songs from The Story for a good cause. The new album with an incredibly long name, Cover Stories: Brandi Carlile Celebrates 10 Years of The Story – An Album to Benefit War Child, features such artists as Kris Kristofferson, Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and Pearl Jam. And all proceeds go War Child U.K., which works to help children in refugee camps displaced because of conflicts.
But who do you get to cover the title song, which is so memorable because of Carlile’s aching vocals? Well, you find a living legend with a great voice and a heart, which is what Carlile did. Dolly Parton takes on “The Story” on the new album. And while she may not make you forget Carlile’s version, Parton does what she does so well. She gives a powerful and heart-breaking vocal that is an immediate classic.
Listen to Dolly Parton’s version of “The Story.”
Cover Stories: Brandi Carlile Celebrates 10 Years of The Story – An Album to Benefit War Child hit stores and the Internet on May 5, 2017.
When I first heard Brandi Carlile‘s 2007 song “The Story,” it was a rare moment where a song immediately blew me away and I had to stop whatever I was doing to listen. “The Eye” from her album The Firewatcher’s Daughter, released last month, has a different effect where the harmonies slowly grow on me every time I hear it.
“The Eye” seems to be about heartbreak and trying to help someone you love: “You can dance in a hurricane / But only if you’re standing in the eye.” It’s a beautiful poem, made more powerful by Carlile’s voice and the voices of collaborators and band members Tim and Phil Hanseroth. It is hard to believe the song started out as two songs that were joined into one. And it is a calmer moment in an album of songs that rock, just like the eye in a hurricane. Check it out.
A John Denver Tribute album, The Music is You, is being released April 2. The album features such artists as Train (“Sunshine on My Shoulder”), Dave Matthews (“Take Me to Tomorrow”), Kathleen Edwards (“All of My Memories”), Lucinda Williams (“This Old Guitar”), Mary Chapin Carpenter (“I Guess He’d Rather Be in Colorado”), Amos Lee (“Some Days are Diamonds”), Allen Stone (“Rocky Mountain High”), and Emmylou Harris with Brandi Carlile (“Take Me Home, Country Roads”), among several others. The new album is a nice combination of Denver’s hits with some of his lesser known songs.
Here is Brett Dennen and Milow singing Denver’s classic love song, “Annie’s Song.”
And here is My Morning Jacket singing “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”
It is hard to believe that John Denver’s death in a plane crash occurred 15 years ago. If he were still around to hear the new album, he would be 69 years old right now. Although I doubt anyone else can record the definitive version of a John Denver song besides Denver (although Peter, Paul, and Mary came close many years ago), the new album is an interesting collection and it is great that today’s artists are making Denver’s music relevant for a new generation. Among the tracks, I particularly like the version of “Darcy Farrow” by Josh Ritter and Barnstar! If you wish to hear more, for now you can listen to the whole album streaming on NPR.
What is your favorite John Denver song? Leave your two cents in the comments.