Monday, May 16, 2011

Show Tunes: Millworker

Pearl Jam: Millworker

[live, 2004]

Emmylou Harris: Millworker


Lavinia Ross: Millworker


I posted the author's "original" of this song way back in 2008 for our Work theme; aptly enough, the song was written for the score of the James Taylor-penned musical "Working", based on the Studs Terkel novel of the same name. Though neither the musical nor the 1979 album this song ultimately appeared on were terribly well received, I've always liked this simple song, and ol' JT clearly does, too, or he wouldn't keep recording it, trying to find just the right balance between the resignation and the desperation of the narrator, a widowed blue-collar millworker and mother from my home state of Massachusetts.

But today is for coverage, and thankfully, a number of musicians have taken this one on, from Pearl Jam to Emmylou Harris. Here's both: the former live and ragged; the latter, recorded relatively early in Emmylou's career, a solid countrypop tune exactly as plaintive and haunting and dreamlike as you'd expect it to be - plus a warm, gentle cover I just received in the mail last week from organic farmer and occasional singer-songwriter Lavinia Ross.

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