And you shiver when the cold wind blows

spooky_forest_1_by_miwicz-d2pg9gvI’ve been to another ridiculously exciting Sleaford Mods gig which I’d like to post about, but before I do…

If, just suppose, you ever find yourself with a spare Wednesday afternoon, say in October, you could do a lot worse than spend an hour thumbing through the various versions of this…

In the Pines…

A genuine traditional country classic, I only came across this fairly recently on “Tragic Songs of Life” by the Louvins (yes, I’m still doing this…). It’s actually a pretty dark song, with various versions which are borrowed from (and added to) in true folk style. Elicit desires, cruel nature, revenge and even railway track beheadings all appear at times in its various guises.

It didn’t take long to realise that there are literally dozens and dozens and dozens of versions of it, from something like a definitive version by Leadbelly, through post-war country heroes like Bill Monroe and the Louvins, and into various sixties and seventies readings, right up to modern takes, including one by Janel Drewis for the Walking Dead 2 game. Along the way, we’ve heard from Dolly Parton (pretty much as you’d think), Tom Jones & Glen Campbell (truly, truly dreadful) and Nirvana’s slightly hysterical performance in the Unplugged series.

Here, for example, is a fairly straight performance by the Carter Family (a sixties incarnation, introduced in gloriously cheesy fashion by Johnny Cash):

 

It’s OK, but here, on the other hand, are the Louvins doing it as it should be done (still the yardstick as far as I’m concerned…)

 

And here’s a pretty cool modern take by Bill Callahan

 

And then…

Well, and then, there’s this, surely the blackest, wildest, most extreme version, I think I could ever imagine.

 

Brrrr!

Roscoe Holcomb was born in 1912, a coal miner who “worked construction” before the war, supplementing his earnings in tough, tough times playing guitar and banjo, as well as fiddle and harmonica at times.

The eerie, keening vocals in his “In the Pines” are very much a trademark.  At times you think you’re getting the measure of this unnerving vocal style before it goes further, to levels that make you wince. I’m currently out of emusic credits, which means I’ve only heard half of the Smithsonian collection which rejoices in the name of “An Untamed Sense of Control”, a lovely epigraph provided to the man by Bob Dylan.

Roscoe Holcomb.

I’m going to be coming back to this harsh, weird mountain man…

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