The New Yorker had a nice article about and photo of Will Oldham this week (or last week; I am always behind). If you don’t know anything about him, you can read the article and get a pretty good sense. I have been behind also, I must confess, in following his music. I can’t believe that this cover of the week came out in 1994 (though it could have come out 40 or 100 years ago. Or today). It is from an EP called “Hope” and I think I scammed it from the guys at Domino records in London around that time. It features Sean O”Hagan on the piano, another musician you might be interested in.
When he recorded this song, Oldham et. al. were using the name Palace Songs, though you might also know him as Bonnie Prince Billy, Palace, Palace Music, etc. I wish I was even 1/8 as enigmatic as Oldham. I’m an open book.
This has been a favorite of mine for a long time and was on my to-do list of covers and I moved it way forward on the occasion of this New Yorker piece.
My review of the song from years back, on allmusic.com.
13 thoughts on “Cover of the Week 10 Agnes, Queen of Sorrow”
Nice job as usual. The thing that I liked most about the article is that he drives a mini-van.
I don’t think I expected a Will Oldham track! This is a good ‘un.
Beautiful version, I love it. Reminds me a bit of Vic Chesnutt.
Thanks all. I am also a Vic fan, though I have sort of lost touch with his music over the years as well. I chatted with him in an elevator in Utrecht, I think, last year. We played with Vic on some shows in the 1990s. Very interesting guy.
Thanks Bill-are you going to see Glenn Hughes at Showcase Live/Patriot’s Place on 3/27?
I don’t think an ex-Deep Purple/Black Sabbath singer comes around too often.
Very nice version, Bill, thanks again as always. Really stark and barren sound, very sparse; the single note guitar in the background is very haunting. How did you do that?
I confess that I wasn’t aware of Will Oldham until I saw the movie Old Joy, directed by Kelly Reichardt (not sure if we’re related, probably not…) I read the article in the NYTimes, and also wasn’t aware of the scope of his work, and how many he has influenced. So I’m going to borrow some of his CDs from the local library to try to familiarize myself with his work. (He has a small role in Reichardt’s new movie, Wendy and Lucy, which I’m looking forward to seeing sometime soon.)
Completely wonderful. This is one of my favorite Palace Brothers songs, and you’ve done it justice.
I didnt expect you to do such a nice version of Will Oldhams Agnes…
Um, thanks. Not sure how to take all the “we didn’t know you had it in you, Bill” comments, haha.
Randy, the instruments are an acoustic, a piano, and a lap steel. the latter is all reverbed out through a Fender Deluxe amp and vintage Roland Space Echo, using a volume pedal of course.
Any chance you might tackle a Jayhawks tune somewhere down the line?
I don’t know the Jayhawks’ music aside from the song “Blue.” A nice song.
Bill, thanks kindly for taking the time to list the instruments you played on the tune. The pedal steel explains the haunting single notes in the tune. Please consider listing the instruments used in your forthcoming CotWs – I find knowing what was played enhances my listening of the song! 🙂
There is no better reason to visit us in Louisville, KY – where Will lives – and play a gig with him… Think of it as research if you like.