Monday, October 28, 2013
Our kids were tickled that we, their parents, had a date night planned for Saturday. While they went off to Gravity at the local movie theatre, we went to hear Iris Dement sing at the Bloomington Center for Performing Arts. She's a songwriter in the country and folk traditions, who has sung with John Prine, Ralph Stanley, Steve Earle, and Emmylou Harris, among others, and I first saw her on, of all things, the Conan O'Brien show, probably back in 1994. She invited him over for Thanksgiving.
She sings with a high, plaintive wail, piercing at times, in mountain style. Not everybody likes it. She writes a lot of sad songs. Ditto. But some of them reveal her great capacity for joy and acceptance. I connect. "My Life" is one of my favorite songs of all times. She sang that and "Easy's Gettin' Harder Every Day," which she somehow hilariously described as being as low as you can get, and "Our Town," and a bunch of the new ones. I loved the contrast of her gentle humor and sad content, sewn together with the thread of her fierce honesty.
Ron Baker (shared via Creative Commons). Also enjoyed her in Songcatcher, a sweet film with Janet McTeer and Aidan Quinn about collecting songs in Appalchia. Yes, I have the soundtrack!
I have two of her albums, Infamous Angel and My Life, and there's a new one out now, Sing the Delta. You can see all of her album covers here, at her website. I'm going to be playing Iris Dement while I cook for the next couple of weeks, you bet.