Song of the Day, January 9: The Bird by Lal and Mike Waterson

Lal and Mike Waterson in a bar. Mike with guitarToday’s song is an outtake from one of the finest hidden gem albums of all time, Lal and Mike Waterson’s Bright Phoebus. When the siblings got together to record their original material while the full family band was on hiatus, they had more material than they could use. The final result was sublime, but the songs that got left behind — most of which fortunately survive as demos — are magnificent in their own right. The Bird is a distinctly Waterson song. Celebrating the power of nature while acknowledging its darker strength, it’s a masterful distillation. Lal sings of the bird in the tree outside her window, marvelling in its ability to make a home wherever it lands but bemoaning the happy song it whistles in the face of her personal despair. Open, aching, and flawlessly delivered, this is a brilliant song that would have been right at home with its contemporaries.

The bird does wrong, love,
To whistle in the morning
And sing those strange sweet songs in his tree
Isn’t that a wicked little bird
To sing those terrible songs to me?

Enjoy this bittersweet ode today.

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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