Hear Ruston Kelly’s Haunting Take on the Carter Family’s ‘Weeping Willow’
Ruston Kelly is getting in touch with his country-music history chops, with his cover of the Carter Family's "Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow."
The song was originally recorded by the family band (consisting of Maybelle, A.P and Sara Carter) during an August 1927 recording session in Bristol, Tenn. under the direction of producer Ralph Peer that's considered the "Big Bang" of country music, as the Carter Family would become one of the first major country music acts.
In the song's original form, it's a bluegrass style number with fast-paced acoustic guitar while the family harmonizes on the somber lyrics. In his rendition, Kelly extracts the heartache of the song's lyrics, giving it a dreamlike atmosphere with a waning steel guitar and his mystical vocals. He adds a gentle but booming drum that has a ceremonial presence; his voice soaring over the haunting words "Oh, bury me / Under the weeping willow tree / So he may know where I am sleeping / Perhaps he will weep over me."
Kelly truly connected with the Carter Family's legacy when he recorded the song at their home in Virginia in Clinch Mountain where they lived during the 1940s. He was invited to visit the property by Maybelle's grandson John Carter Cash, the son of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash.
“To say I’ve been influenced by the Carter Family is an understatement. When I first heard their 1927 recordings—considered the ‘Big Bang’ of country, folk, and Americana music—I was changed forever. Maybelle Carter remains one of my greatest musical influences," Kelly reflects.
"I spent a week in solitude, playing guitar by the creek, walking barefoot on the same worn paths these heroes of mine had. I went there on a personal mecca, and I left profoundly moved and grateful for the peace and spirit that family instilled there," he continues. "On a stormy night in their living room, I started recording this song. It was recorded by the Carter Family 92 years ago and I’m proud to share my take on such an impactful piece of music history.”
"Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow" was released on August 2, 1927, with Kelly releasing his version on the 92nd anniversary in 2019.
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