Originally appeared on icfmusic.wordpress.com
My thirty-ninth recommendation is: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss’s “Through the Morning, Through the Night” from their 2007 Raising Sand album. I have been wanting to highlight this album and this particular song for months and months since I’ve had this album, but I never could find the right time. I felt that, because I had recommended Alison before, I should wait until much later to use her again, because I’m all obsessed with rules and stuff, but I’m beginning not to care anymore lol. It was time, and that time was today. You need to see and hear country music for what it is and can be, and those award shows don’t really appreciate nor represent what the good part of the music is (the CMAs did give the win to Plant/Krauss for “Collaboration”, so I’ll give them that). The first single, “Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)”, with its Beatles-like sound, I wouldn’t consider to be country, but it’s very good. It wasn’t until last year, during Christmas-time that I was able to finally purchase and listen to all of Raising Sand, and man I was blown away. Led Zeppelin rock legend Robert Plant and bluegrass extraordinaire Alison Krauss are the perfect partners for a project like this. Anybody who has heard all of the material and has trouble categorizing this as a “country album”, while at the same time, labels artists like Rascal Flatts “country”, just because they call themselves that, is seriously crazy (I won’t name names, but I’ve seen it online, and it makes no sense). The album as a whole may not be particularly country, but its influence and sound is very evident, throughout.
On my first listen of the entire album, in my living room, I was immediately struck by how diverse and exquisite this collaboration turned out to be. The album has a refreshing blend of rock, folk, pop, blues, and my personal favorite: traditional country. The track that stood out to me the most was, of course, “Through the Morning, Through the Night” because of that reason. I totally was not expecting to hear the traditional style of country on the album. Alison’s vocals are hauntingly beautiful in this cover of Gene Clark’s cheating song. I wouldn’t call the song a “duet” for the reason that Alison sings the lead and Plant is more of the harmony vocal (I’ll tag it as both, however). The production consists of drums, acoustic bass, electric guitar, and pedal steel guitar, and man, does that steel guitar sure pull you in. I’d say with Krauss and Plant’s sweet voices and that achingly sad steel moaning in the background, it just sounds so freaking heartbreaking (especially that last steel solo at the end with the electric). T Bone Burnett does an excellent job producing this track, as well as the rest of the project. It could easily be labeled “alternative country”.
The lyrics are about cheating, and I’m thinking marriage infidelity because of the “the bond has been broken, the promise you gave, the words that were spoken…” line. You can really feel the ache that the person is feeling because their loved one is running around on them… although on a lighter side, it is kinda funny to hear Alison sing the line: “But to know, that another man’s holding you tight, hurts me, little darling…” only because it sounds like her man is off with another man, a la Brokeback Mountain lol (which isn’t “funny” per se, but it’s just not a common lyric you hear). Alison said herself that with this album, she didn’t want to change the lyrics, even if one was gender specific, so she didn’t, and I think it makes the song and album even better that way (another track on the album that has a similar situation is in the beginning of “Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson” when Alison sings, “Once I had myself a good woman, but I just didn’t treat her right…” ha) So, “Through the Morning, Through the Night”, just as Gene Clark wrote it, is from a male’s perspective, and really showcases the emotion he feels because his lover is messing around on him. Despite the depressing lyrics, the song actually relaxes me and makes me feel good (the lyrics don’t have to do with that: it’s everything else. Just the beauty of it all.) and it’s currently #14 in my top-played iTunes songs. I feel like this one of the least talked about songs on the album and it deserved recognition.
Now, back to Raising Sand. My other top favorites, besides the songs I mentioned would be catchy cougar-lovin’ “Rich Woman”, “Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us” with its gypsy-like feel, the classic rock and fiddle-infusion of “Nothin”, “Killin’ the Blues” (which has a similar sound to “Through the Morning…”), and finally, the folksy, even Medieval-ish bluegrass sounding closing track, “Your Long Journey”. Now, all the material on the album is amazing (I could never get into “Stick With Me, Baby”, for some reason, however), so I’d recommend buying the whole album, because I’m betting this will go down as one of the best collaborative records of all time. They alternate on every song, one sings lead vocal and the other harmony, or done duet style. There’s plenty of steel, fiddle, banjo, and twang for any country fan to enjoy, as well as any non-country fan. I hear that Plant and Krauss want to or plan to make another one together in the future. Too bad I missed them when they performed at Red Rocks a while back!… I was too poor then (or should I say, too? lol). Just buy the record, and you’ll be glad you did.
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