Gillian Welch – The Way The Whole Thing Ends

Gillian Welch – The Way The Whole Thing Ends

If you want to buy this song or album: http://amzn.to/LIxJHd

Gillian Welch – The Way The Whole Thing Ends from the album The Harrow & The Harvest (2011 Warner). This beautiful album is full of haunting drama that occurs off-camera. It is the best kind of record: one that lures you in and soothes you with harmonies and banjo, only to leave you wondering what just happened.

Ending an eight-year recording break that set in soon after Gillian Welch’s profile-boosting appearance in O Brother, Where Art thou?, The Harrow & the Harvest marks a lovely return. The Harrow & the Harvest, her first album in eight long years, is perfectly timed to coincide with the tenth anniversary of O Brother and the success of such acts as the Civil Wars and Mumford & Sons, who owe her a considerable debt.

Retreating from the full-band sound of 2003’s Soul Journey, these new songs are defiantly spare and spectral, featuring mostly the dueling guitars and voices of Welch and longtime partner Dave Rawlings. Their playing sounds tighter and more intuitive than ever, opening up songs like “Down Along the Dixie Line” and “The Way It Will Be” and setting their elegant guitar lines—picked more often than strummed—at eloquently cross purposes.

It’s a rich portrait, full of unexpected imagery and odd turns of phrase, which means that even though Welch has sung about drunks and prodigals so many times in the past, the songs on The Harrow & The Harvest sound both pleasingly familiar and starkly new, as if her unique vision of Americana contains an inexhaustible cast of eccentrics and an unending narrative from which she can harvest the most harrowing arcs.

Lyrics:

Say you wanna see my garden
And you wanna make it shine
Say you wanna see my blue jeans
Hanging on your old clothesline
Standing in the backdoor crying
Now you wanna be my friend
That’s the way the cornbread crumbles
That’s the way the whole thing ends

Now what’s a little baby doing
Dressing up in banker’s clothes?
What’s a little sweetheart like you
Doing with a bloody nose?
Standing in the backdoor crying
Now you’re gonna need a friend
That’s the way the cornbread crumbles
That’s the way the whole thing ends

Now once you had a hook and ladder
Up into the headless night
And once you had a motorcycle
But you couldn’t ride it right
Standing in the doorway crying
Now you’re gonna need a friend
That’s the way the cornbread crumbles
That’s the way the whole thing ends

Someone said something one time
But Daddy didn’t talk too loud
People oughta stick together
That’s the way to make a crowd
But here you come alone and crying
Now you wanna be my friend
That’s the way the cornbread crumbles
That’s the way the whole thing ends

Momma’s in the beauty parlor
And Daddy’s in the baseball pool
Sister’s in the drive-in movie
Brother’s in the old high school
Now here you come alone and crying
Once, you know, you were my friend
That’s the way the cornbread crumbles
That’s the way the whole thing ends

Standing in the backdoor crying
Now you wanna be my friend
That’s the way the cornbread crumbles
That’s the way the whole things ends

Picture: Shorpy Historic Photo Archive

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