If you know music in the Triangle, you know Phil Cook. Once of the ambling roots outfit Megafaun, he’s long worked on solo material and more recently taken the stage with Hiss Golden Messenger.
His 2011 album, Hungry Mother Blues, delivered mostly solo compositions, but for September’s Southland Mission, Cook recruited a band of his tightest cohorts to craft a vibrant record that explodes with color. And now, he’s offered the second track from Southland Mission, “1922,” his version of a song written by friend and longtime music pal Charlie Parr. Cook played the song as a part of his three-night Southland Revue at Duke Gardens a few weeks ago. If you missed it, take a listen below.
“1922” opens simply enough, with Cook singing over banjo licks. Gradually, the arrangement expands. An acoustic guitar, crackling electric slides, sparkling keys and popping percussion all enter the mix. A stomping rhythm section breaks through to drive the song’s back third home, with a soaring fiddle and big vocal harmonies cranking the tune to a fever pitch. It all sort of sneaks up on you, and it’s all wonderful.
Despite the 20th Century title, “1922” still speaks to contemporary common-folk struggles. “Well I worked all summer, couldn’t save a cent/Gave all my money to the government./I don’t know how it all got spent/But the banks are comin’ for my deed,” Cook sings, with a refrain of “Ain’t that the way it is?” But you won’t find any self-pity or sorrow here; instead, you get a joyful celebration of a lifetime spent rolling with the punches.
While you’re waiting for Southland Mission‘s September 11 arrival, you can catch up on video from nights one, two (featuring Charlie Parr) and three of the Southland Revue, and stream another song from the record, “Great Tide.”