Monday, September 14, 2020

Lessons: The Hard Way Every Time

I was well into my twenties when I learned that my grandmother and I share the same favorite musician. It makes me wonder how many forgotten childhood afternoons I spent in her house listening to Jim Croce, being unaware and unformed enough to remark on the occasions.

When it comes to learning and lessons, Jim Croce’s albums are a masterclass in life, love, and who not to mess around with. His song The Hard Way Every Time takes the subject on headfirst and reminds me of falling through a tree, painfully hitting every branch on the way down before landing softly in the grass at the end of the song. It’s hard not to hear the lyrics, and the strings that eventually accompany them, and not go through a mental slideshow of some of the hardest lessons we’ve each learned in our lives.

Covers of Croce that are worth listening to are few and far between. One reason being that his songs are written for two guitars and this doesn’t seem to deter any aspiring cover musicians from attacking it solo, at least not in the Youtube crowd. But Dale Ann Bradley does an incredible job of The Hard Way Every Time in my opinion on her album Hard Way. (The album also includes covers of Bobbie Gentry, The Grateful Dead, and Journey, among others) The bluegrass take and her country twang would have been even more at home in my grandmother’s farmhouse in the Appalachian foothills than Philly’s own Jim Croce all those years ago. It certainly takes me back.

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