Mark Bradley: The Gold Around You
[out of print]
I debated about whether this should be in the Metals or the Color My World theme. I eventually decided that it fit better as a color.
Sometime in the late '90s or early '00s, I was in a used record store in New Brunswick, NJ with a friend of mine, killing time before a concert. He unearthed a copy of Mark Bradley's posthumous CD, Extraordinary and asked me if I though he would like it. I told my friend, who is significantly older than me, that he would probably really love some of it and really hate some of it. He bought the CD, and later sent me an email that simply said, "You were right."
Mark was one of a kind. He was the songwriter other songwriters revered. You wrote some absolutely beautiful, personal songs. He wrote political diatribes. He was also fond of off-the-wall improvs with his band Walt Whitman’s Beard. Basically, he lived his life with his heart on his sleeve. His flame burned brightly in late '80s/early '90s New Brunswick, but it didn't last long. When he passed away in 1994, he was only in his late '20s.
I saw Mark perform a couple of times, but his impact didn't really hit me until I attended a tribute concert in 1995 that also celebrated the release of the "Extraordinary" CD. The disc is a mix of home demos, studio recordings, and live performances. "The Gold Around You" is a home demo from December 1993. The low fidelity somehow ads to its charm. The song is about love: The magic of that first meeting, and the insecurities and doubt that can crop up in a long-term relationship.
Paul Rieder: The Gold Around You
[not commercially available]
Paul Rieder (Wooden Soldiers, All Gods' Children, Walt Whitman's Beard, Fiesherman's Stew) helped put together the Extraordinary CD. Later, he spent a few years living in Austin, Texas. While there, he recorded some home demos that have never been officially released, including his take on "The Gold Around You" (as well as several other Mark Bradley covers). Paul's dobro and mandolin playing give his version a appropriately southwestern feel.
Kate Evans: The Gold Around You
Kate Evans (All Gods' Children, ISOE) has a way of masterfully wringing strong emotions from delicate performances, as if there is no filter between her heart and her voice. She sings her version (from her 2000 album, Release) alone at the piano, and you just want to hug her when it's done.
Bonus cover: My own out-of-tune, home-recorded version of this song, recorded in 2005, can be found here.
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