Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Walk with me in the morning dew

I don´t know if anyone here has read The Road, the most recent novel by one of my favorite authors, Cormac McCarthy? An incredibly bleak but very moving account of a father and son travelin´ down the road in a post-apocalyptic landscape after a nuclear showdown. Soon to be a motion picture, I guess only one song fits as the perfect theme song. And that´s Morning Dew, a fine piece of cold war paranoia written by folk singer Bonnie Dobson in ´62. In an interview she once remarked her song was based on a movie too by the way: On The Beach, a ´59 flick starring Gregory Peck, and based on the novel by Nevil Shute.

"Take me for a walk in the morning dew my honey, take me for a walk in the morning sun my love... You can´t go walking in the morning dew today, you can´t go walking in the morning sun today...." Bonnie´s version is apparently a live take, but that´s often said to be fake. Whatever the case, she sounds extremely vulnerable here. "Won´t you tell me where have all the people gone? Oh don´t you worry ´bout the people anymore..."

The first ones to cover Dobson´s composition were Greenwich Village folkies Fred Neil and Vince Martin, who rearranged it for their Tear Down The Walls album (´64). A nice interpretation, though just a little bit too stiff. Singer/songwriter Tim Rose based his ´66 cover of Morning Dew on the Neil version and added himself as a co-writer in the process. Through a loophole in American law, he even managed to get royalties this way. Bonnie Dobson has always protested this, but hey, what can you do... Fact is that Rose´s menacing full-band version has a lot of power. "What they were saying all these years is true, ´cause there´s no more morning dew..."

Subsequently, Morning Dew has been covered by loads of bands: Nazareth, Jeff Beck, and the Allman Brothers to name a few. The Grateful Dead´s jam version is probably the most well known. Goes on for ages too... Lee Hazlewoods take is interesting, especially because of that swirling psychedelic piano. But the only interpretation since Tim Rose that really blows one away must be credited to German noisemeisters Einstürzende Neubauten. Listen to their Morning Dew (from ´87) and you can almost hear the four riders of the apocalypse approaching... Blixa´s guitar is sharp as a razor here. If I directed The Road, I´d play the Neubauten version as a starter, and Rose´s one when the credits finally roll.

Bonnie Dobson - Morning Dew MP3
Fred Neil & Vince Martin - Morning Dew MP3
Tim Rose - Morning Dew MP3
The Grateful Dead - Morning Dew (live ´73) MP3
Lee Hazlewood - Morning Dew MP3
Einstürzende Neubauten - Morning Dew MP3


Patriq Allyn said...

Awesome stuff as ever! Thank you.

I read The Road last year, it is bleak. What I particularly enjoyed is how it's kind of just a cross-section of the man and boy's journey, it doesn't overcook the beef. Good book.

Park said...

Thank You for a nice post and all the different versions of this great song. However, Einstürzende Neubauten recorded their version of it for the album "Fünf auf der nach oben offenen richterskala" ("Five on the open-ended richterscale"), which was released in 1987.

Ramone666 said...

You´re right of course Park, will change it right away. My cd of Funf Auf... says ´95, but that´s a reissue of course... Time sure flies.

larrya1966 said...

I could never understand why Tim Rose took any credit for Morning Dew. Always looked like theft to me.