Sunday, July 22, 2012

Patty Griffin: Up To The Mountain

Quite a few artists have recorded Patty Griffin’s “Up to the Mountain,” but today’s Spiritual Sunday song is the artist’s own version – which wasn’t the first recording of the song. That distinction belongs to Solomon Burke. The tune is based on the final speech given by Martin Luther King, Jr. on the day prior to his assassination. It has a gospel feel and a clandestine spiritual message that shines through on the final verse.

The recording from her 2007 album “Children Running Through” is a sparse arrangement, which creates the beauty of the song. It starts with a lone piano track by Ian McLaughin who was the keyboardist formerly with the Small Faces and their successor, The Faces. On the second verse, Glenn Worf’s acoustic bass and a string quartet joins McLaughin and Griffin.

It is in an interesting key for the instrumentation – “B.” A half step either direction would have been easier to play, but a half step higher to “C” would have been the easiest for the piano, bass, and the strings. It is a very nice recording that reminds us all that that mountain top is just ahead.

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