Song of the Day: Dion’s “Sanctuary”

Among many hits, many know Dion for is his 1968 recording of Dick Holler’s “Abraham, Martin and John.” Still, much of the folk music recorded in the 1970s by the rock and roll pioneer remains overlooked. Thus, it was a nice discovery to hear Dion’s recording of another song by Holler called “Sanctuary.”

Dion’s album Live at the Bitter End, August 1971, which was only recently released in 2015, is full of gems. But “Sanctuary” is one of those songs that grabbed me right way.

“Sanctuary” is more personal than “Abraham, Martin and John,” where the singer recalls arriving in San Francisco. He contemplates the despair of events going on around the country. Despite the unrest, the singer finds some solace in having “John and Mary/And Sanctuary/ And Telegraph Avenue.” AllMusic concludes that the song is “an utterly poignant, melancholic masterpiece that you can’t believe you haven’t heard more often.”

“Sanctuary” is a beautiful song about finding some personal peace amidst the turmoil of the world. And it remains timely now more than forty years later.

There currently is not a separate version of Holler’s “Sanctuary” on YouTube, but you may hear it in this video for Dion’s entire Live At The Bitter End, 1971 album. We have queued the video to start at “Sanctuary” at the 39:10 mark.

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