sand is overrated

all songs posted are for evaluation only. if you hear something you like and would like to hear more, please go ahead and support the artists by buying their music--i will always include links for you to do so. copyright holders: if anything on my site needs to be taken down, please email me and it will be removed immediately.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

favorite song -- billy bragg & wilco : "remember the mountain bed"

this could very well be my favorite song ever.

the lyrics were penned by woody guthrie, the songwriter probably best known for his folk song "this land is your land". guthrie was a prolific writer whose experiences in life imparted on him the ability to identify and resonate with the every-man. his writings tended to focus on the social and political plight of the disenfranchised, with particular attention paid to his desire to kill fascists with his guitar. however, "remember the mountain bed" is, at its core, a tale of love, and more beautiful lyrics i cannot imagine. it is a song of deep sorrow but also radiant hope; the pain of death and the comfort of life; the labor of man's existence and the necessity of remembering what matters most. it is a song of passion, of memory, of beauty. of life.

in 1998, billy bragg and wilco set about the enviable task of putting some of guthrie's lyrics to music. jeff tweedy and jay bennett wrote the music to "remember the mountain bed", backing the lyrics with an easy, understated arrangement of piano, organ, and acoustic guitar. it's a simple arrangement that lets the lyrics truly live, and tweedy's vocals are letter-perfect, matching note for note the remorse and sadness of each line and every word. the song has become a staple of both wilco and tweedy solo shows, and with very good reason--it is simply one of the most beautiful songs i've ever heard.

wilco : "remember the mountain bed" mp3
from the lp mermaid avenue vol. ii (elektra, 2000)
do you still sing of the mountain bed we made of limbs and leaves:
do you still sigh there near the sky where the holly berry bleeds:
you laughed as i covered you over with leaves, face, breast, hips and thighs.
you smiled when i said the leaves were just the color of your eyes.

rosin smells and turpentine smells from eucalyptus and pine
bitter tastes of twigs we chewed where tangled woodvines twine
trees held us in on all four sides so thick we could not see
i could not see any wrong in you, and you saw none in me.

your arm was brown against the ground, your cheeks part of the sky.
as your fingers played with grassy moss, and limber you did lie:
your stomach moved beneath your shirt and your knees were in the air
your feet played games with mountain roots, as you lay thinking there.

below us the trees grew clumps of trees, raised families of trees, and they
as proud as we tossed their heads in the wind and flung good seeds away:
the sun was hot and the sun was bright down in the valley below
where people starved and hungry for life so empty come and go.

there in the shade and hid from the sun we freed our minds and learned.
our greatest reason for being here, our bodies moved and burned
there on our mountain bed of leaves we learned life’s reason why
the people laugh and love and dream, they fight, they hate to die.

the smell of your hair i know is still there, if most of our leaves are blown,
our words still ring in the brush and the trees were singing seeds are sown
your shape and form is dim, but plain, there on our mountain bed
i see my life was brightest where you laughed and laid your head...

i learned the reason why man must work and how to dream big dreams,
to conquer time and space and fight the rivers and the seas
i stand here filled with my emptiness now and look at city and land
and i know why farms and cities are built by hot, warm, nervous hands.

i crossed many states just to stand here now, my face all hot with tears,
i crossed city, and valley, desert, and stream, to bring my body here:
my history and future blaze bright in me and all my joy and pain
go through my head on our mountain bed where i smell your hair again.

all this day long i linger here and on in through the night
my greeds, desires, my cravings, hopes, my dreams inside me fight:
my loneliness healed my emptiness filled, i walk above all pain
back to the breast of my woman and child to scatter my seeds again.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is a bold statement!

But I can't really argue as this is a beautiful song indeed. :)


January 4, 2007 at 7:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. I was just cruising yr blog and saw this post and I have to say "Remember The Mountain Bed" is my favorite song as well, almost since the day I heard it. Good call.


January 7, 2007 at 8:02 AM  
Blogger joe said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 9, 2007 at 9:38 PM  
Blogger joe said...

i, too, have been intoxicated with this song for the last few weeks. i saw tweedy in tulsa and got hold of a bootleg version of RtMB from a chicago show in 05 that even blows the album version away. i couldn't agree more with your comments related to the songs' masterful weaving of that full embrace of life's "joys and pains" through both music and verse.

February 9, 2007 at 9:40 PM  
Blogger Marissa said...

Just happened across your blog and I must say:

I am not usually a maker of bold, sweeping statements, but "Remember the Mountain Bed" is also my favorite song of all time.

It's the only song that consistently makes me shut up and stop whatever I'm doing at that moment, and listen.

Also, the title of your blog is a much-appreciated reference. Nothing goes together better in fall weather than "Eternal Sunshine" and "Mermaid Avenue."

Best of everything to you.

October 15, 2007 at 10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been a huge Wilco fan for a while now, but Mountain Bed never truly resonated with me until recently. I was at Jeff's Second City show in Chicago where people bid on requested songs for charity. Someone paid hundreds to hear it and in a small room with MAYBE 200 people in it - I had goosebumps the whole time with Jeff singing it feet away. The mood of that song in that setting was almost too much to handle. I'm now a tad obsessed with it. I actually found this page by googling "remember the mountain bed." Good to see that others are in the same boat. I keep debating which is more impressive -- the beautiful music or the lyrics. As much as I love Wilco, I have to say lyrics. Transcendent, epic, and breathtakingly gorgeous. I have a new song I want played at my Irish wake! (formerly Moonlight Mile - Stones)

January 17, 2008 at 10:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I just wanted to say I like this blog a lot. I agree with a lot of your "top albums list" thing... last fm thing...whatever. What I'm saying is I like your taste in music.

Remember the Mountain Bed is utterly beautiful.

March 1, 2008 at 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can someone explain in depth the lyrics to this song for me? i love the song but i'm not sure i reslly get what he's talking about...

January 4, 2009 at 12:12 AM  
Anonymous Luke said...

great blog mate.. just a suggestion.. if you have read or are planning on reading the guthrie book 'bound for glory', look out for a chapter towards the end of the book where woody tells of a time he went picking peaches in california with a family he had hitched a ride with.. anyway he explains how he fell for a girl on the mountain bed of the orchard and how sad he was to have to leave the family and keep travellin on..

just a thought because i'd heard this recording before i read the book and was certain i was on to something! haha

May 10, 2009 at 6:55 AM  
Blogger tad said...

thanks for the tip! i'll have to check that out when i get a chance

May 13, 2009 at 7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About the deep meaning of the song, I have nothing deep, but in simplest terms I think it's like the statement "love makes the world go round". But in a way better manner.

August 4, 2009 at 1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an old blog I stumbled upon, but I must comment. This is an incredible song with what I consider the most powerful, moving lyrics I've ever heard. Woody Guthrie was a once in a generation talent and this song only helps to prove it.

January 27, 2013 at 5:14 AM  
Blogger Bastroni said...

My turn! Currently listening to the blissful performance of Remember The Mountain Bed from the Farm Aid performance on youtube. What a song! Another gem is "When The Roses Bloom Again"

Cheers from Portland, Oregon

March 26, 2014 at 12:29 PM  

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all songs posted are for evaluation only. if you hear something you like and would like to hear more, please go ahead and support the artists by buying their music--i will always include links for you to do so. copyright holders: if anything on my site needs to be taken down, please email me and it will be removed immediately.

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