Why give thanks for just one day? We feel like we’re going to need the whole week to express our gratitude for everything that’s happened with The 78 Project so far, and everything that is to come. So for the next six days we’ll be posting a 78 from our Southern Road Trip (you might even remember them from our Kickstarter campaign updates) every day and adding them to our online archive!
Star & Micey stirred up the morning air in St. Mary’s Cathedral in downtown Memphis with their Flipside, a brand new, never-before-recorded “Rocky Song,” during a harmony-filled morning session that left us all speechless.
As summer drifts away in a shimmery breeze, it’s hard to remember what it felt like to be truly cold in the winter months. But listening back to the recordings we made in February with Valerie June we were instantly reminded of the chillness in the air that made the warmth in her performance so especially lovely.
Valerie chose “Happy or Lonesome” to pay tribute to a performer from the past who might just be her namesake. But as she sang her long-distance longing with such a hopeful tone, we had to wonder if she had Memphis on her mind, too.
Valerie is effervescent when she plays a happy song, so buoyant and free that it fills you with a heady happiness to hear her. For her flipside she chose a love song, “Raindance” – maybe to offset the murder ballad she’d done earlier in honor of Valentines Day – but definitely to bring a little light to the dark winter evening.
Willie is one bad character. First we heard of him, he was the wolf who lured “Pretty Polly” to an early grave. He disappeared off to sea, and we thought we’d seen his last, until Vandaveer arrived with news.
With harmonies mournful, chilling and precise, Mark and Rose sang us the story of his terrible crime in “Banks of the Ohio.” The banjo plucked out a tune as tense as can be. It was too tragic to be believed, he’d taken another life.
We listened back, through the crackle of the 78 and the thickness of the hot winter room. It sounded like our man Willie, no doubt about that.
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Right at the outset they proclaim “Death is here!” as if after the events of the first side of Vandaveer’s acetate, there was any other possible outcome.
“The Wayfaring Stranger” felt truly right when Rosanne Cash sang it. With her husband, John Leventhal, playing guitar accompaniment and surrounded by the cozy familiarity of their kitchen, the quiet rumble of the Presto’s spinning platter seemed comforting and familiar to everyone gathered. The song is about the hope for comfort that carries you through a long journey, the promise of finding those you love again. This simple, graceful message of faith has carried “The Wayfaring Stranger” on a 200-year journey through history, and Rosanne’s belief in it brought it to rest on an acetate in her home.
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For her Flipside song, Rosanne chose a new original. “Etta’s Song” is about coming home as well, but to the city where she was born, Memphis, Tennessee, and is a tribute to a dear family friend.