While tidying up some of my CDs this evening, I made a remarkable discovery concerning Gillian Welch. I came across the CD soundtrack to the Coen brothers film, O Brother, Where Art Thou which was released in 2000. Looking at the sleeve notes, I saw that Gillian Welch sang on two of the songs with Alison Krauss: “I’ll fly away” (Welsh and Krauss) and “Didn’t leave nobody but the baby,” (Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch). I first heard this soundtrack 15 years ago and played it until it nearly wore out. I was excited that someone had made a movie with music that I loved but wasn’t allowed to play in my home – it gave my wife and daughters seizures. This film vindicated my love of bluegrass music and I didn’t feel like such a weirdo, being the only person in Australia who had heard of Alison Krauss and the Cox family. This film really put bluegrass music on the map. My kids still hated it and Hilary believes she was deeply scarred by having to listen to bluegrass music as a teenager. On this soundtrack, tucked away, was Gillian Welch and I wouldn’t even find out who she was until a broken leg intervened years later.
But the great song on the CD was the Cox Family classic, “I am weary (let me rest).” I have always found this a moving song, a little bit sad but one of the best the Cox family played and an absolute classic of American bluegrass music.
Ah, music as therapy. Nothing like it to cure pain – physical and metaphorical. God created pain to plague humans and show us what a bastard He can be, but then He felt guilty and invented music. Tonight, I really am weary and in pain. Please let me rest.