Paul Kelly & Charlie Owen
Death’s Dateless Night
Cooking Vinyl COODCD655P
Cerebral Celebration of Death In All Its Glory.
Australian’s Paul Kelly & Charlie Owen are of an age; like me when you go to a lot more funerals than weddings; and it was at one such occasion when they brokered the idea of recording an album of their favourite ‘funeral songs.’ A sentiment abhorrent to Mrs. Magpie, but one I have I have given a lot of thought to myself over the years.
The mood, for want of a better description is firmly set with the opening song Hard Times, with Charlie Owen playing a Presbyterian style piano and Kelly giving a doleful vocal performance, I had to fight back the tears right from the off.
At first I thought Cole Porter’s Don’t Fence Me In was a peculiar choice until I sat and really listened to the words and it fits just perfectly; especially with the addition of Memphis and Maddy Kelly on harmonies.
I have actually been to a funeral when the Beatles’ Let It Be was played; but this stripped back to the bone version is by far more fitting for such an occasion.
Of their own songs the stark Meet Me In The Middle of the Air by Paul Kelly with Owen on Dobro is haunting and disparate, and in the right circumstances (wind, cold and rain?) just perfect for a coffin being laid into the ground. But it is his song Nukkanya, Aboriginal for “See ya” which caught my attention. First released on his 1994 Wanted Man album, the song really does capture the spirit of a loved one ‘passing over.’
Is it right to have a favourite song on an album like this? Of course it is!
The duo’s reading of Townes Van Zandt’s To Live is to Fly, sounds uncannily like early Bob Dylan and is deeply gorgeous and they breath fresh air into their reinterpretation of the Classic Irish song the Parting Glass but it’s a song that is high up my own list of songs to be played at my funeral that is my ‘favourite.’
I actually discovered the delights of Leonard Cohen via Joe Cocker singing Bird on a Wire and hearing Charlie softly playing the piano while Paul sings and strums an acoustic guitar will be perfect for own casket going through the curtains. Cue a weepin’ and a wailin’ from all in the Chapel.
I know Mrs. Magpie would hate the idea but just like the album, how cool would it be to close the ceremony with this adaptation of Hank’s Angel of Death? No? It must just be me then.
Combining songs by some of the greatest writers of the last 100 years plus a couple by Paul Kelly, the pair have recorded 12 songs that could and should be played at any ‘real music’ fans funeral….although I have a couple that are personal to me that would be added in too.
Released 7th October 2016