Who am I?

I’m an Agilist, a former software engineer, a gamer, an improviser, a podcaster emeritus, and a wine lover. Learn more.

Currently Consuming
  • The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
    The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
    by Eric Ries
  • The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How.
    The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How.
    by Daniel Coyle
  • Alexander Hamilton
    Alexander Hamilton
    by Ron Chernow
« Link Roundup for 12 February 2012 | Main | The Plan Starts Now »
Monday
Feb062012

Perhaps Not So Inexplicable

I’ve written before about songs I find inexplicably perfect. Crooked Still’s “Orphan Girl” is another one of them.

Perhaps some of it can be explained by the band’s curious combination of style and instrumentation. Depending on who you ask, Crooked Still is a progressive bluegrass band, a folk ensemble, or a string band. This particular track’s lyrics and prominent banjo certainly would incline one towards that type of assessment, and lead singer Aoife O’Donovan’s vocal style always puts me in mind of Alison Krauss. Not a lot of bluegrass bands have a cellist, however, and at the time Hop High — the album “Orphan Girl” is from — was recorded, the group didn’t have a fiddler. So there’s certainly a sense of the exotic about it.

The song itself is not particularly remarkable. Its lyrics are simple and fairly repetitive. The chord progression is very close — if not identical — to Pacabel’s Canon, which means I occasionally try to sing the lyrics to Green Day’s “Basket Case” over it. Then again, I’m a blues fan, which means that I don’t demand a huge amount of structural variety from my listening.

And I think that’s where the real answer lies. I’ve talked before how I love to see performers take something and make it their own, and my collection of cover songs bears that out. One of the things about a simple musical and lyrical structure is that it leaves so much room for personal expression — and in fact that’s often all you have to work with. You can’t hide behind cleverness or artifice. I can’t help but be drawn to that kind of purity of expression.

Which applies equal well to the Leo Kottke cover of “Corrina, Corrina” that just started playing here.

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>