Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Peace in the Valley

This is the version of this song that is in the closing titles of the movie Hounddog. It is sung by Melonie Daniels and the arrangement is quite unique as compared to any of the better known ones such as Elvis Presley's or Johnny Cash's.

A piece of this one--the open notes and first verse--also plays on the special features section of the DVD which is where I first heard it. I left the DVD on that section to listen to it over and over both before and after watching the film. And then I went back to the ending titles and played it over and over there and finally I went to YouTube to search for it. And boy was that a challenge. A plain old search for the song by title did not bring up Melonie Daniels version at all. I listened to a bunch of other versions and none of them gripped me like this one.

There is something about the rhythm being a bit jerky and the notes hit by the string instrument (guitar?) being in an unexpected key. Key? is that the right term? I'm not sure I have the vocabulary to talk about music with clarity. All I know is what I feel as I listen and those sounds call up something deep and both sad and hopeful at once. Which made it the perfect song for that moment in the film where Dakota Fanning as Llewellen began singing it as she walked out of the despair of her past into a possibly hopeful future as credits start to roll and this version begins.

As far as I can tell from listening to other vids of Melonie Daniels, this isn't a signature sound for her. So I guess if I want to hear other songs with a similar sound I need to find out who wrote the arrangement and who the musical instrument players were. Was it a group that plays together often or was it just for that one recording?

I remain haunted both by this song and by the movie itself more than twenty hours after first encountering them.

0 tell me a story:

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