I'll Be Right There
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Elizabeth Cotten - "Freight Train"

Elizabeth Cotten plays slow, deep, aching guitar and squawks her crude and creaking vocal line expressing her inane world view (what does this song mean?).


Destroyer with Frog Eyes - "New Ways of Living"

It took me a few listens, but I've come to embrace Your Blues, Destroyer?s latest album, as if it was my own child. The album?s synth sounds, mostly bad imitations of other instruments, initially come off as corny, but as you explore the fragile melodies (preferably with headphones on) you come to realize that the synth soundscapes create their own fairy tale world, a perfect location for the set of songs.

I saw Bejar (Destroyer?s front and sometimes only man) play in support of the album in Ottawa with Vancouver?s Frog Eyes as his backing band. The synths were replaced by a full rock band and Carey Mercer?s (from Frog Eyes) wild hooting back-up vocals and sharp, loud leads. The latter of which I found overpowering and distracting (though when I mentioned it afterwards, I was jeered out of the room, a social pariah).

This version of ?New Ways Of Living? (recorded with Frog Eyes as part of Destroyer?s CBC studio sessions), (however), outdoes the Your Blues version by a mile. Frog Eyes knits a tight weave of frenetic pop around Destroyer?s camp. The song?s a sustained sprint with Mercer crowding Bejar, pushing him, breathing down his neck. Then at 1:49 Mercer sets in with the perfectly surreal yodel of an undead little girl and the guitars pick themselves up into a wave propelling the song to its anthemic climax.

Posted by Jordan at January 7, 2005 1:02 AM

I've always heard Cotten's name thrown around, but this is actually the first time I've heard her music. She's doing an old stand-by "Freight Train", but her fingerpicking ability is amazingly solid and fluid. Very impressive stuff. I took a look on Amazon, and she has very little material released which is a shame. Going to have to snag some of it.

On the new Jake Speed and the Freddies album, they actually have a song about Elizabeth too. Her influence should be just as pervasive as Mississippi John Hurt's considering the similiarity of their styles.

Posted by Bart at January 7, 2005 2:09 AM

The first verse sounds to me like an escaping slave headed north.

In general, the song is full of tropes that appear in lots of old spirituals and folk songs throughout the American vernacular tradition.

Posted by Jesse at January 7, 2005 2:54 AM

Cotton was an amazing woman. She wrote Freight Train when whe was twelve and began performing after a long hiatus in the 40's when she was in her 60's and kept at it until she was 90!

Read more @ http://www.sologuitarist.net/elizabethcotten.html

Posted by brenda at January 7, 2005 4:39 AM

I believe she was Pete Seeger's nanny.

I think she played left-handed but with right-handed stringing.

Posted by Theo at January 7, 2005 7:43 AM

I think I like the album version of the destroyer song more. Maybe I should just give this version more time, it certainly took a few listens to get into Your Blues. Anyhow, thanks, this is a good teaser for the EP that's coming out next year.

Posted by Dan at January 7, 2005 12:00 PM

Hey there! This was my favorite track from that session for the very same reason as you (Mercer), and I posted it, too. Funny.

Posted by jennifer at January 7, 2005 1:02 PM

Love the Destroyer tune, can't ever get enough Destroyer.

Posted by b pilla at January 7, 2005 5:45 PM

When the grateful dead covered her tune, they were quick to actually send her a royalty check in the sixties/seventies so Elizabeth Cotton bought a dishwasher. I'm glad someone made her load easier to bear.

Posted by burntfriedman at January 10, 2005 7:40 AM

That Destroyer song is awesome! Way better than the original. Check out the rest of the CBC set at


Posted by GeneticFreek at January 22, 2005 12:29 AM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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