Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fred Neil and Vince Martin -- "Morning Dew" (1965)

Walk me out in the morning dew, my honey
Walk me out in the morning dew today

The first cover version of "Morning Dew" was recorded by Fred Neil and Vince Martin and released on their legendary 1965 folk album, Tear Down the Walls.

Neil is best known for his song "Everybody's Talkin'," which he wrote and recorded in 1966.  (The song was a huge hit for Harry Nilsson in 1969, and was featured on the soundtrack of Midnight Cowboy, the only X-rated movie to ever win the "Best Picture" Oscar.)

I don't remember hearing any of Neil's music back in the sixties, but discovered it only after he died in 2001.  He's a remarkable singer, and 2 or 3 lines will feature more of his music in the future.

Bonnie Dobson, who wrote "Morning Dew," remembers getting a call from Jac Holtzman, the founder and owner of Elektra Records, who told her that Neil wanted to record it.

Fred Neil
Neil revised the lyrics before he and Martin recorded it.  For example, the first line of the song as Dobson sang it was "Take me for a walk in the morning dew," which Neil changed to "Walk me out in the morning dew."  He changed Dobson's "You'll never hear your baby cry again" to "You didn't hear no baby cryin', mama."

Neil's changes were fairly subtle, but the effect was to take a song whose lyrics were a little stiff and literary-sounding and make them considerably more natural.

The Neil-Martin version of "Morning Dew" is very restrained but quite powerful.  The two men have very different voices -- Neil sings in an unusually low register, and is the more distinctive singer -- but the combination is very pleasing.  

The musical accompaniment is very simple -- an acoustic guitar and a guitarrón mexicano (literally, "Mexican large guitar" -- a six-string acoustic bass guitar commonly seen in mariachi bands), which was played here by Felix Pappalardi, a founding member of Mountain and the producer of several classic albums by Cream.  (Lovin' Spoonful founder John Sebastian played harmonica on several Tear Down the Walls tracks, but not on "Morning Dew.")

A big-ass guitarrón mexicano
This is perhaps the best of the "Morning Dew" covers.  The only thing I don't like about it is the guitar chord progression at the very end.

Here's "Morning Dew" by Fred Neil and Vince Martin:

Here's a link you can use to buy the song from Amazon:

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