Thursday, August 26, 2010

For a Song: Misty Mountain

Ferron: Misty Mountain (from Testimony)


Ferron: Misty Mountain (from Boulder)


Sometime before 1984, some friends of mine invited me to a concert by Ferron. Who? I said. “You’ll like her,” they replied. So I went, and they were more than right. I remember it being just her and her guitar, but it’s possible that she had a small band with her. I also remember it being a mostly or entirely acoustic show, but again, it was a long time ago. There is one thing I remember clearly. Late in the show, Ferron performed her song Misty Mountain. There is a line in the song, “I said Ferron, you’re halfway pretty…”, and someone shouted clearly, “more than halfway!” By then, I had discovered a new favorite musician, and I had to agree. I bought the album Testimony at that show, and it too became a favorite. The arrangements on the album are fuller than they were live, and Misty Mountain in particular became a pop anthem, albeit one with unusually poetic lyrics. But I felt the same excitement hearing Ferron on record as I had discovering her live.

Now it is almost thirty years later, and I decided it was time to share this song. So I decided to check into what Ferron was doing now. It turns out the her most recent album, Boulder, came out in 2008. And there was a new version of Misty Mountain. Now Testimony came out early in Ferron’s career. Since then, she has been through a lot, and learned more about what she wants to sound like. And she wanted to revisit Misty Mountain after all this time. What would this sound like? Well, now the former popish anthem has the quality of a ritual chant, probably Native American. That would be consistent with the animal imagery in the song. In any case, the original bristles with energy, while the remake throbs with power. And this is one of the most remarkable examples I have ever heard of an artist remaking her work.


Geoviki said...

Okay, wow, I was working on a mega-music-project all last weekend. See, I've got these old cassette tapes from the late 70's and early 80's that I listened to a lot. A whole lot. Mostly I made them from vinyl and radio, but my sister-in-law made me one that had this song on it. There are a surprising number of songs on these tapes of mine that I haven't found in a more modern format, so I dumped them from these old funky tapes to wav files for the moment, just so I have 'em.

And now I have a better one of this song! Thanks. I really adore Ferron's music.

One of thse days I'll work up a list of the other songs I'm trying to replace. It's a very eclectic bunch, but I bet you can help me out.