The skewed perspective of a conservative Catholic employee-side employment lawyer living in the most exciting city in the Milky Way, Las Vegas, Nevada USA, who listens to a lot of really strange music and who, for some reason, lives and dies St. Louis Cardinal baseball

4/08/2005

Prefab Sprout - "Streets of Laredo / Not Long for This World"

This is an appropriate song o' the day for the day of the Papal Funeral. A traditional western folk tune? On a western "concept" album by a British adult-alernative group? On the day of the funeral of the Great John Paul II?

Yes.

There's room for dispute as to whether this is the greatest song recorded by Paddy McAloon's British adult-alternative popsters, Prefab Sprout. "Streets of Laredo," however, their best song they Paddy didn't write, given that's its author is listed only as "traditional." It is also the best song about death in my CD collection, as it is a proper celebration of death, not in the Goth suicide music sense, but in the celebration of the Christian death. "Christian death" in the sense of the resignation toward death as part of the cycle of life. The song is quite powerful and very haunting, without being maudlin.

"Streets of Laredo" has been recorded by many artists. I've listened to the versions by Johnny Cash and Michael Martin Murphey and, they like others. sing it as a straightforward folk-based dirge. McAloon sets a dream-like instrumental track, disguising (unless you listen closely to the words) that the cowboy with whom he is conversing is a corpse. McAloon expertly added the "Not Long for This World" section that perfectly complements the cowboy's post-death lament.

Paddy McAloon probably visits the subject of death on more of songs than any other active songwriter working in the pop vein. On rhe American West "concept" record containing this track, the misunderstood and much-criticized The Gunman and Other Stories, the death references (sometimes just in the form of off-hand asides) are at their most frequent, possibly a reflection of the fact that all of us continue to get older and progress closer to the day of our own deaths. Amazon has this CD for only $17.49. It's not a sale price, but this is a great CD worth adding to anyone's collection, regardless of whether you are, like me, a Sprout-head.
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