Episode #11 of The 78 Project: Joe Henry & Lisa Hannigan “Red River Valley”

Sometimes there is a feeling of knowing a place well, though you’ve never been. We instantly felt at home in the apartment, though none of us had set foot there before.  It was a beautiful, sunny loft in Soho that felt filled to its 20-foot ceilings with Spring.  In the street below bike bells cha-chinged and jackhammers clanged.  We set up while Joe and Lisa rehearsed with the windows wide open, knowing we’d have to close them for a clean recording, but in no hurry to stop the breeze from carrying the city up and in.

The “Red River Valley” of Joe and Lisa’s song fills us with comfort, though it’s not a place any of us have ever called home.  Joe traveled from California, Lisa from Ireland.  New York, where we all met that morning, falls right in the middle.  And the song became the familiar meeting point between their two voices.  Harmonies sung in a living room, where a family meets every day, sound like home.  Wherever that may be.

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The Flipside: Lisa Hannigan & Joe Henry “Little Bird”

Because they were in the midst of touring together, Joe and Lisa had one of her songs already in their minds and fingers, ready to play for the Flipside of their 78.  It came from an album of Lisa’s that Joe had produced, and it was clear from the wild focus of their duet performance of “Little Bird” that they had developed a deep relationship with the song together. The breath was swept out of the room from the moment they began.  Even the street construction found itself struck silent by the command of their singing.