Thursday, February 7, 2013

Winter: North Dakota

Chris Knight: North Dakota (demo)


Since New England is about to get hit with "Snowmageddon," or whatever they are calling it now, I figure it's time to get back to posting on Star Maker Machine, especially with a timely theme like "winter." As a northerner, winter, cold, and snow is part of my heritage and is in my blood. Sledding, downhill and cross country skiing, snow days, ice skating, curling, snow forts, and even ice fishing were all a part of my upbringing. I have 243 tracks in my mp3 collection that contain either "winter," "cold," or "snow" in their title. So I selected a track to write about that contains none of these words in its title.

Chris Knight is one of the most underrated songwriters in America. In this track he describes the utter bleakness of a US northern plains blizzard while at the same time telling a heart-wrenching story. In the song it is snowing so hard that the narrator can't see the horse stable from his cabin. He returns home during the blizzard and is unable to find his female companion (friend, wife, girlfriend? doesn't matter). It isn't until much later, when the rain washes the snow away, that he finds out what happened to her.

"North Dakota" is from Knight's stellar 2001 album A Pretty Good Guy. The version posted here is an acoustic demo, which to me adds to the starkness of the song. This song was my introduction to Knight, and the first time I heard it I teared up. Knight was born, raised, and still resides in Kentucky, and I have no idea if he spent any time in the North Dakota winter. But that's what great songwriters and storytellers do; they are able to put you in foreign situations and make you feel like you are there. Does anyone else feel the need to throw another log on the fire or put on a sweater and drink hot coco after hearing this song?

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