Category: Don Gibson

Covered in Folk: Don Gibson
(M. Ward w/ Lucinda Williams, Laura Cantrell, and Gray Sky Girls)

February 24th, 2009 — 09:54 pm

Today’s NPR feature on M. Ward offered a rare chance for a wide audience to explore the power of coverage by playing Ward and Lucinda William’s gorgeous, atmospheric cover of Don Gibson’s Oh, Lonesome Me up alongside the original. In my own case, the experience was so startling, it sent me to the stacks to learn more about the old sad poet who wrote the song.

Gibson’s credibility as a songwriter is impeccable, and his coverage is vast; allmusic, which is hardly a comprehensive resource, lists somewhere around a thousand Gibson covers. But unusually, almost all of these covers are from within genre, with the exceptions primarily from artists like Roy Orbison, Elvis Costello, and Ray Charles, who are known for covering country songs.

It’s rare to find someone who’s so well covered within his own genre, yet so little outside it – though to be fair, Gibson’s core country sound doesn’t exactly scream “strip me down”. Still, given his popularity in the ’50s and ’60s, and his knack for sweet, poetic countrypop songs of loss and loneliness, Gibson deserves better coverage from today’s sparse acoustic troubadours. While we wait for the next generation to rediscover him, here’s a few from the lonesome side of the folkworld.

Fans who may have missed M. Ward’s recent acoustic performance on WNYC, another NPR affiliate, will find it well worth the visit, too. No covers there, but Hold Time also includes a lovely, spacey cover of Buddy Holly’s Rave On.

Meanwhile, those interested in country covers would be well advised to head over to When You Awake, where Paul of Setting The Woods on Fire (and Star Maker Machine) has recently posted his second in a series of Hank Williams cover sets. Great stuff from a guy who really knows his country music.

1,425 comments » | Covered in Folk, Don Gibson