Making the internal world work better. The Songs & Voice of Iris DeMent.

“I think she is one of the greatest singers I have ever heard in my life. I heard her on my tribute, went out and bought what was available, which was two albums. Found out she’s a new artist and she can’t get played because she’s too goddamned good. She’s got too much to say, songs mean too much. They make too much sense.”
(Merle Haggard about Iris DeMent)

Merle Haggard obviously heard all the greatest singers, and he heard it with a great ear for music and for soul and heart in singing. We should listen to Merle when he talks about singers. But no – this isn´t meant to be an argument over why Iris DeMent is the best singer ever. That´s not the point. But it´s important for me to tell you that listening to Iris DeMent actually make you think exactly like Merle did – not because of a magic trick she does, but because when you listen to her, her voice and her songs occupies your soul and plants a flag in your heart, making a room for just you and the song, and you don´t want to leave that room. That´s how it felt when I stumbled upon Iris´second album, “My Life” in 1993. Sweet was the melody as Iris took my hand and showed me a garden of both childhood memories and troublesome waters. It was like a revelation and a miracle, a new voice and new songs on the same level as the greatest singers you´ve ever heard. It´s not soul singing, it´s the soul singing. Naked, honest and no filters. That´s Iris DeMent.

The album was dedicated to Iris´late father and the spirit of love of childhood and family are painted across all of the tracks, but it´s also about growing up, looking back and about living in the here and now. As in “No Time To Cry”.

A few years later, Merle Haggard made his beautiful cover of the same song. Iris was maybe the best singer he had heard, but she also was a fabulous songwriter. The choice of “No Time To Cry” wasn´t an obvious one, but Merle didn´t do it by chance. He knew.

Actually, it was Iris´contribution to the tribute album to Merle Haggard in 1994, “Tulare Dust”, that was the first song he heard her sing. And what a great version this was. It made every one who heard it want to leave the big city. You believe every word.

Back to “My Life”, DeMent´s second album. It was nominated for Grammy Award in the category for Best Contemporary Folk Album. The album consists of masterpieces, partly because of the great lyrics and sentiments that are involved, but always because of Iris´delivery. Just listen to “Easy´s Gettin´Harder Every Day”.

And the beautiful “Childhood Memories”, that draws you into her childhood from the first lines, and keeps you there through all the song.

“Fireflies inside of a mason jar.
Acting big behind the wheel of daddy’s car.
Playing church around the old piano stand,
You were quite a preacher and oh, we sang so grand.
I remember every night what we would say and do:
“If you’ve forgiven me, then I’ve forgiven you.”
And now when life begins to get the best of me,
I reminisce these childhood memories.”

There are two cover versions on the album, one of them the fitting “Mom And Dad´s Waltz”, Lefty Frizzell´s tribute to his parents, a song where Lefty saw to that all the royalties went directly to his mom and dad. It´s a story totally in the spirit of “My Life”.

The other cover is “Troublesome Waters”, the old Carter Family song both pointing to and acknowledging the tradition Iris conquered with her new songs, and to the tradition of hymns and religious songs he was brought up on, in a family close to the pentecostal movement, where songs like this was an important part of their lives, part of the way to survive.

“Then gently I’m feeling the touch of his hand,
Guiding my boat in safely to land.
Leading the way to heaven’s bright shore,
Where troublesome waters I’m fearing no more.”

“These old songs are my lexicon and prayer book,” Dylan told The New York Times‘ Jon Pareles in 1997 – “All my beliefs come out of those old songs.” One would think that Iris´would agree to a sentiment like this. Even while she was brought up a Pentecostal Christian, she early was questioning the gospel as it was preached and delivered, focusing as it partly was, on sin, judgement and threats of hell. But that didn´t mean that she didn´t love the songs. Her belief also came out of those old songs, even if she was choosing another path than the rest of her family and friends from her childhood. The songs and the melodies come from a deeper place than the words, it´s about human longing and hope, about not knowing, about deep wishes, about waiting, about searching, about life and troubles. Iris found a way to respect all that in the old songs, the authenticity of the need for faith, even if she herself chose to let the mystery be, like in maybe her most known song, from her first album.

A lot of people saw the greatness in this song, my personal favorite is when two of the most beautiful voices in the world meets at “10.000 Maniacs” MTV Unplugged show in 1993, David Byrne and Natalie Merchant blending perfect together.

Iris Luella DeMent was born on January 5th in 1961, in Arkansas. She was the youngest of 14 – fourteen – children, the daughter of Pat DeMent and Flora Mae, his second wife and mother of the last eight children. When Iris was about three years old, the Pentecostal family moved outside Los Angeles, and the little girl was brought up on the bible, gospel and country music. There is written a lot of books on children psychology through the years, but I really don´t know of any of them diving into the unique challenge it is to be the last of fourteen children. What would Siegmund Freud say about that? Nevertheless, Iris DeMent very obviously loved her parents and her family, and her childhood years and memories are a central inspiration for many of her songs. It shouldn´t be a surprise, though, that she chose the old gospel song “50 Miles of Elbow Room” for her first album.

“Sometimes I’m cramped and I’m crowded here
And I long for elbow room
I long to reach for altitude
Where the fairest flowers bloom
It won’t be long before I pass into that city fair
With fifty miles of elbow room
On either side to spare.”

Her debut album was called “Infamous Angel”, already marking the doubt and the paradoxes of life itself and in Iris´life. Later DeMent told us that the song “Our Town” was the first she wrote. Unbelievable, almost. It even sounds like it is a continuum of earlier songs, like she is jumping on the train of songwriting that´s been going forever.

“And you know the sun’s settin’ fast
And just like they say nothing good ever lasts
Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye but hold on to your lover
‘Cause your heart’s bound to die
Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town
Can’t you see the sun’s settin’ down on our town, on our town
Goodnight”

Music was always an important part of Iris´life, her mother always singing, also partly dreaming of a singing career, listening to the radio, letting the radio waves bring her to Grand Ole Opry. Many of us know all the blessings, but also the time it requires to bring up one, two or three children. Well, try eight or fourteen. That the singing is some of the brightest memories Iris brings with her from this home, is greatly touching in itself, and wonderfully described in her heartfelt tribute to her mother, “Mama´s Opry”.

“She grew up plain and simple in a farming town
Her daddy played the fiddle and use to do the calling
When they had hoedowns
She said the neighbors would come
And they’d move all my grandma’s furniture ’round
And there’d be twenty or more there on the old wooden floor
Dancing to a country sound

The Carters and Jimmy Rodgers played her favorite songs
And on Saturday nights there was a radio show
And she would sing along
And I’ll never forget her face when she revealed to me
That she’d dreamed about singing at The Grand Ol’ Opry”

Many artists would use their debut album to mark the difference between them as an artist and the childhood, the family, the things you´ve left to be a grown-up. Not so with Iris DeMent, she even invites her mother to sing with her on the last track of the album. As Iris later told, it wasn´t that easy to make this happen, they almost gave up in the studio, until Flora Mae herself asked for a certain key and they made the really touching take of “Higher Ground”. On album Iris gives a spoken intro: “No voice has inspired me more than my mother´s. She showed me that music is a pathway to higher ground.”

A beautiful moment, and Flora Mae DeMent finally made her record debut. We should all be grateful to her for all her singing for Iris through the important childhood years. Without Flora Mae, no Iris, in more ways than one. After the song finish we can hear her say, satisfied: “See, that was my key.”

With “Hotter Than Mojave In My Heart” Iris increases the tempo and passionate singing, and shows both humor and the ability to make a joyful love song.

To get an impression of Iris DeMent as a live artist, you should listen to this live album from 1992, released a few years ago – she owned the room.

After two albums focused on the inner self, childhood and family, Iris DeMent in 1996 releases her third album, “The Way I Should”, and shows us that a fullblown protest singer under the angelic surface. I know some people don´t think this move was her wisest, but for me it both shows an artistic integrity and risk-taking that calls for respect and admiration. A more rock-based backing on some of the songs also show us an even greater potential in her voice. Besides that, when we listen to the song “Wasteland Of The Free” my feeling it hasn´t dated like many protest songs, it feels fresh and relevant to day as it was over twenty years ago. And it´s rage in her voice. It´s the voice of courage, willing to risk it all.

“Living in the wasteland of the free.

We got preachers dealing in politics and diamond mines
and their speech is growing increasingly unkind
They say they are Christ’s disciples
but they don’t look like Jesus to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got politicians running races on corporate cash
Now don’t tell me they don’t turn around and kiss them peoples’ ass
You may call me old-fashioned
but that don’t fit my picture of a true democracy
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got CEO’s making two hundred times the workers’ pay
but they’ll fight like hell against raising the minimum wage
and If you don’t like it, mister, they’ll ship your job
to some third-world country ‘cross the sea
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

Living in the wasteland of the free
where the poor have now become the enemy
Let’s blame our troubles on the weak ones
Sounds like some kind of Hitler remedy
Living in the wasteland of the free

We got little kids with guns fighting inner city wars
So what do we do, we put these little kids behind prison doors
and we call ourselves the advanced civilization
that sounds like crap to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We got high-school kids running ’round in Calvin Klein and Guess
who cannot pass a sixth-grade reading test
but if you ask them, they can tell you
the name of every crotch on MTV
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

We kill for oil, then we throw a party when we win
Some guy refuses to fight, and we call that the sin
but he’s standing up for what he believes in
and that seems pretty damned American to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free

Living in the wasteland of the free
where the poor have now become the enemy
Let’s blame our troubles on the weak ones
Sounds like some kind of Hitler remedy
Living in the wasteland of the free

While we sit gloating in our greatness
justice is sinking to the bottom of the sea
Living in the wasteland of the free
Living in the wasteland of the free
Living in the wasteland of the free”

A Florida republican senator was so enraged over the song that he started a witch hunt against the radio station that played it, proving the songs point to a great extent. The radio station´s primary source of funding was erased from the state budget. Iris contributed in a benefit concert for re-raising the money for the station to get back on the air. It took years. So much for freedom of speech. Hate mail and death treats followed. No one know what was the real cost for Iris.

The album includes a great variety in themes, not only politics, and one of my favorite songs and vocals are “Keep Me God”, Iris elaborating on the whole concept of God, combined with the strong human need to be a part of something bigger than herself.

Listen to the passion and power in her voice, it´s like a train moving through the night, just like nothing can stop her.

Iris DeMent was crossing many borders with “The Way I Should”, even ending the album duetting with the great blues rocker Delbert Mc Clinton in the really rocking “Trouble” – á la Jerry Lee Lewis. Not the words, though.

“Let’s buy a watermelon, swallow all the seeds
Forget what Mama told us, do everything we please
Trouble, trouble again
Trouble’s where we’re going
Trouble’s the only place we’ve ever been

Let’s pour a little whiskey, drink a little gin
Listen to Merle Haggard like he’s loving me again
Trouble, I’m even in trouble with him
Trouble’s where I’m going
Trouble’s the only place I’ve ever been”

“Trouble is the only place I´ve ever been.” The song ends the album in high spirit with a laughing Iris, but there wont be another album from Iris DeMent for eight years, and it will be another eight years before there is some new Iris DeMent songs. The reason, as in all peoples lives, are most certainly complex. If it was writer´s block, there is often a reason for that, if it was the divorce, it always is reasons for that, if it was taking care of her mother, there was reasons for that, if there was depressions, there was reasons for them, and so on. Maybe Iris knows and understands the whole story, maybe not. It´s not always so simple. The hate letters and death treats did certainly not help making the ideal artistic environment for creating.

Luckily, both for Iris and for us, if the songs stopped coming, the singing didn´t.

Iris started participating in the project The Trans-Atlantic Sessions, and should be a guest many times.

In 1997 Iris DeMent joined Bob Dylan in his great tribute project for Jimmie Rodgers, making one of the most memorable recordings of the album, “Hobo Bill´s Last Ride”.

The same year she participated in “The Tom T Hall Project”, a tribute to the great songwriter Tom T Hall. And if Iris had writer´s block, she certainly makes a majestic performance on “I Still Miss A Lot Of Trains”, a country vocal as heavy as a train set, and up there with the best of them.

In 1997 Jools Holland once again shows his talent of picking the greatest artists for his show, Iris DeMent teaming up with “The Beautiful South”, first singing one of their songs, “Bell Bottomed Tear”, before they returns the favor with Iris´song, “You´ve Done Nothing Wrong”.

The same year she collaborated with Tom Russell, and duetted with him on his songs “Big Water” and “Box of Visions”.

This is also the year where she joined one of her greatest champions and fans since the start, the man with the kindest voice in the world, John Prine, in his “In Spite of Ourselves” project, duetting the hand-picked female country singers of his choice. No one contributed more than Iris, with four songs.

She visited “A Prairie Home Companion” in 1998 with a great version of “I Washed My Face In The Morning Dew”.

Along the years, many artists discovered that there couldn´t be a better duet partner than Iris. As Steve Earle, making one of country music´s most beautiful duets with her on “I´m Still In Love With You” in 1999.

In 1999 she also teams up with Loudon Wainwright III, singing “Pack Up Your Sorrows”.

Another collaboration with Tom Russell appears in 1999, this time it is Russell´s project about immigrants from Europe, “The Man From Gods Nowhere”. Iris participated on several songs, making the most memorable moment on the album when she sings “Acres of God”.

In 2001 Iris is playing a little role in the movie “Songcatcher”, about the origins of mountain songs, Iris even singing “Pretty Saro”, sounding like it was she who made the song.

The same year she is one of the chosen few Clinch Mountain Sweethearts, hand-picked by Ralph Stanley for his duet album. For Bob Dylan, singing with Ralph Stanley would be “a highlight of my career”. It sounds like it´s a great moment for Iris, too. “Riding On A Midnight Train”. When it comes to duets, no challenge is too big for Iris DeMent. And the greatest want her to join them.

As we can see, she used the time after her previous album wery well, even if she didn´t produce her own songs in the period. She also gave many concerts.

In 2002 Iris DeMent met singer/songwriter Greg Brown (I wrote of him in the piece “From Brown To Blue – The Voice of Greg Brown”) – not for the first time, but again. This time they fell for each other, and in a few months they were married. According to Iris, a bit more spontaneous than se had been before this. Mr Brown, a much underrated artist himself, and Iris, shared some of the experiences from growing up in a Pentecostal home of religious songs and music. As you can tell from their songs, a deep understanding og human nature, a great engagement for people, society and the time we live in, and both a understanding of and a distance to organized religion as we know it. A great fan of both, I was really happy when I heard the news – from outside and over the sea it seemed like a perfect idea – at least, they would always have the language beyond words – the music.

Then, in 2004, the next Iris DeMent album was released, called “Lifeline”. Like Dylan did twenty years earlier, Iris went back to the old songs of her childhood and youth for a new start, for Iris is was also the songs her mother sang. She released the album on her own label, Flariella, named after her mother. I don´t know if the album also was made as a gift to her mother, but it could have been – these were the religious protestant hymns that she would know by heart, as did Iris. And Iris sang them as if she was in church singing, with the guitar or the piano. Heartfelt, raw and with no compromise. Some of the audience, especially they who would know the songs themselves, loved it, to others it was the language from a foreign country. For me it was extremely touching to hear Iris DeMent sing the songs of my grandmother, also a quiet angelic Pentecostal woman, never pushing religion on anyone, always giving herself to love of her husband, children and grandchildren. This was especially the case of “Blessed Assurance”, a song I cited in her funeral.

“Leaning On The Everlasting Arms” was also used over the end credits in Coen Bros. film “True Grit”.

One of the songs stands out, the only song Iris have written herself. A song in the language of the bible but with no finger-pointing and no preaching, just stories of the compassionate love and empathy for your fellow man that Jesus, and Iris, would agree on. Maybe this is the song that is the key to the kind of non-religious form of Christianity that Iris DeMent support. He reached down and touched the pain. The Lifeline.

“A certain man one day did go down to Jericho
Fallin’ among thieves along the way
Well they stripped him then they fled
Leaving him for dead
Lying on the side of the road

And then the priest came passing by
He crossed over to the other side
Then the Levite came and he did just the same

When the Samaritan heard his cry
He just could not pass on by
He dressed his wounds and he carried to the nearest inn

Well he reached down, he reached down
He got right there on the ground
He reached down, he reached down
And he touched the pain

He paid the keeper the amount that was due
If you need more he said I’m good for that too
He reached down, he reached down
And he touched the pain

And then the Scribes in the Pharicese
Brought the adultress in for Jesus to see
Lord, she’s sinned, now the law says she must be stoned
If there’s a one of you that’s without sin
Said you can cast the first stone in
One by one they left, leaving Jesus and the woman alone

Well no accusers are left that I see
And Woman, neither do I condemn thee
He reached down, he reached down
And he touched the pain

In the Bible a story is told
About a traveler at the end of life’s road
He’s at the gates of the Kingdom and the Master says “Come on in”
For I was hungry and you gave me meat
I was cold you put shoes on my feet
When I was in prison there was you who come to see about me

Well you reached down, you reached down
You got right there on the ground
You reached down, you reached down
And you touched my pain

When you’re debted to the least of these
He said you were doin’ it unto me
You reached down, you reached down
And you touched my pain

Well he reached down, he reached down
And he touched the pain”

The same spirit we can find in some of the other songs, as in “God Walks The Dark Hills”, God described as the faithful and loving helper and the power that gives you shelter from the storm and through life, just like the songs gave her mother the power, Iris got it, too.

“God walks in the storm
The rain and the sunshine
He walks on the billows
On through glimmering light
Helps us walk up the mountain so high
Cross our rivers through valleys
God walks the dark hills
‘Cause He loves you and me.”

Iris also played “He Reached Down” from “Lifeline” at The Trans-Atlantic Sessions a few years after the album was released.

Greg Brown and Iris DeMent adopted a little girl from Siberia, Russia, in 2005, and I would mention it here, because it may have affected the choice of lyrics at the, so far, last album, from DeMent´s hand, “The Trackless Woods”, released in 2015. But – before that – for the first time in sixteen years, we get an Iris DeMent album based on her own songs alone. It´sa different kind of album than the previous when it comes to the musical solutions, it´s more meditative than the first ones, sometimes it´s more like poetry set to music, it might not be songs you can sing along to, but it surely is songs you have to listen to. As the title song of the new album “Sing The Delta” – one of my favorite songs of Iris ever. I think Ray Charles could have made a great version of this – it´s sweet soul music, and Iris sings maybe even better than ever before, more mature, a bit deeper, but oh, my God, what a singer, and what a song. It makes me cry, like the best songs do.

“So you’re headed down a Southern way,
passing thru the Delta some time today?
In my mind, pictures line the walls
of a place I used to know, and vividly recall
I love you so much, and you sure sing good
and it would mean so much to me, if you would
Sing the Delta a love song for me!”

It´s strong songs, it´s filled with confessional poetry, brave poetry, it doesn´t pussyfoot around or turn a blind eye to human nature, as Bob Dylan said of one of his songs. Neither does Iris DeMent in her songs. There is no room too dark for her to get into, and the I in the song “Out of the Fire” has been going through some hard times.

“The tents are rolled up, the Revival’s left town
all that remains is the fine sawdust ground
still wet from the tears that fell from the eyes
of folks too far down to hang back in pride
And I am here, too, like I always was:
deep in the pain, strong in the love
still singing my prayer to Heaven above
heartfelt and true.

Once you were the dawn, the dusk, and the light
Without the dream of holding you tight
my days turned to black, I could hardly take breath
I stumbled my way thru a fate worse than death
But like the Phoenix that rose right out of the fire,
I came back too, from a bed of desire
and shook from my wings the ash from the pyre,
and headed back home.”

“Before The Colors Fade” is obviously a song inspired by Iris DeMent´s mother, who passed away the year before the release, 93 years old. A beautiful song about the lifelong love from a daughter to her mother.

“Before the colors fade from view
I sit alone remembering you
And all those things you’d say and do
And the feel of being next to you
The angles of your sweet, old face
The voice that filled my life with grace
I walk as through a sacred place
Before the colors fade

Everybody comes and then they go
Everybody fades and glows
Everybody falls and climbs
Some people go before their time
But no one sparkled quite like you
I’m gonna miss you through and through
I’ll visit every shade and hue
Before the colors fade

Tonight I’ll read you like a book
Every twist and turn you took
Every song and every look
All you gave, all you took
In time you might seem like a dream
But until then and in between
I’ll linger on each sacred scene
Before the colors fade”

Iris DeMent was interviewed in 2012, at the Grammy Museum, and it gives a great insight in Iris´views on music as a lifeline, both for herself and her parents.

One of the songs were presented on The Marty Stuart Show – “Go On Ahead And Go Home”.

On the same show she also played Merle Haggard´s “Big City”. No wonder Merle thought she was one of the best he heard!!

A couple of years later Iris brought “There´s A Whole Lotta Heaven” visiting “A Prairie Home Companion”. A great version.

At an Iowa radio station Iris DeMent sang “Pass Me Not, Oh Gentle Saviour” in 2015, the old Fanny Crosby hymn, a song that would have fitted perfectly on “Lifeline”.

In August 2015, DeMent released her, so far, last album, “The Trackless Woods”. Once again, it digs deep in my heart from the start. The songs are poems translated from the russian modernist poet Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966), a brave woman, a known critic of the Stalin terror. And once again, it´s not the most easy-going album Iris DeMent have made, but it´s all true Iris, and it´s a deep work of passion and love. You have to listen closely, to the words and to the voice. Iris uses the translations of Babette Deutch and Lyn Coffin to dig into the feminist word of Akhmatova, maybe also to build a bridge to the literature and the culture of the land from which her adopted daughter has her origins. In the liner notes, DeMent writes about this: “In international adoptions, children, in order to gain a family, have to give up their country and all that goes with that. It’s a high price to pay. I wanted to give back to my daughter some of what she lost. Anna Akhmatova has made that possible.”

In a few words on this little video, Iris tell us about the project and why she was so fascinated of the felt relationship with the poems she stumbled upon.

In “Listening To Singing” it all comes together in a classic Iris DeMent way – the words, the melody, the vocals. There is no wonder she felt that these words were like family for her. It´s like it could be written by Iris, and she makes the words her own.

“A woman’s voice, like the wind, it rushes
Nocturnal, moist and black
And as it flies, whatever it brushes
It changes and it won’t change back

It’s a diamond-shine, comes to bathe and bless
Things are draped in a silvery light
It rustles its suggestive dress
Woven of fantasy, silken and bright

And the power that propels the enchanted voice
Displays such a hidden might
It’s as if the grave were not ahead
It’s as if the grave were not ahead
But mysterious stairs beginning their flight

And the power that propels the enchanted voice
Displays such a hidden might
It’s as if the grave were not ahead
It’s as if the grave were not ahead
It’s as if the grave were not ahead
But mysterious stairs beginning their flight”

“And This You Call Work” is one of Iris DeMent´s favorites on the album, she told No Depression in an interview, where she also tells about her struggle with the poems until she found the melody – when she got the melody, she understood the poem.

And this you call work is carefree existence–
Catching ere it’s flown
What music has privately hinted,
And jestingly call it my own.

And using another’s blithe scherzo
For lines far too languid to run
To swear your poor heart is lamenting
In fields that smile back at the sun.

And later, when pinewoods play trappist
Doing what bold eavesdroppers dare
While the fog’s impalpable curtain
Hangs vaguely, as smoke on the air.

Not feeling one qualm of conscience
I take things from left and right
Life is sly, but I take something from it
And all from the stillness of night.

There is a relationship between people and artists, across the borders, there is something in the human existence that makes us alike, never mind the language and the color of your skin. We all got mothers hoping the best for us, giving us life and holding our hands as long and as much that they are able to.

Anna Akhmatova was born in Odessa in 1889, a few years after Zigman and Anna Zimmerman was born there. Anna stayed, but Zigman and Anna emigrated to USA in their thirties. Anna gave birth to Abraham in Duluth, Minnesota in 1911. Thirty years later he and Beatty had their son, Robert Allen, who later wrote these lines:

“Grandma said, “Boy, go and follow your heart
And you’ll be fine at the end of the line
All that’s gold isn’t meant to shine
Don’t you and your one true love ever part”

As Anna Akhmatova, Iris DeMent has always followed her heart, and even if the road has been rough and rowdy sometimes, she always kept her eye on the prize – to stay true to her inner self, never taking the easy way out, never releasing songs and projects she didn´t believe in. I really hope she never does. But what I do hope, is that I once more will feel the happiness of playing a new Iris DeMent album with songs that I´ve never heard before, and that once more reminds me of the beauty and possibilities of the human soul and the human voice.

In 2016, John Prine released his new album, “For Better, For Worse”, like a “In Spite of Ourselves, Part Two”, a duet album with wonderful female duet partners – some where changed, but Iris DeMent was still on the team. John explains why, and it´s obvious why – Iris is both a modern singer/songwriter of our days and one who carries the torch from the great singers and songwriters from long time ago, building a bridge between the old and the new, and showing us the connections between people of today, yesterday and tomorrow.

Iris of course has both empathy and love for her fellow citizens in USA of today, like she always had. A new song from her hand arrived in March this year. The story goes on, lots of songs to be written in a world that not always are heading in the right direction. Knowing that Iris DeMent still is there, helps a little. If there is a God, may he bless her!

 

Johnny Borgan

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