Joe Henry | Bloom (Video)

By DDR | Their Bated Breath

So happy to hear new Joe Henry music. He’d just recently talked about his Stage 4 prostate cancer diagnosis at a concert. To me, he’s a hidden American treasure. He’s been that his entire career. And he’s a songwriting master, deserved of the same realm as Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. Joe is one of a handful of musicians who is truly as much poet as singer. Poet in the old world sense. And in a very Joe Henry way — this Warhol-esque video presentation for his new track is interesting too. He stands. He does nothing but look honestly at the viewer. Nothing music-video phony for Joe Henry. It’s one of the things I’ve respected about him all the years of anticipating his record releases: Truth and purity of purpose. His new record (out Nov. 15) is entitled “The Gospel According to Water”. I’ll never understand why he isn’t more well-known to the public — especially considering he’s also Madonna’s brother-in-law and actually wrote her song, “Don’t Tell Me’. He’s produced LPs by Bonnie Raitt, Elvis Costello, Kristin Hersh, Solomon Burke, Ani DiFranco, Meshell Ndegeocello . And not unlike other troubadours, Tom Waits and Chocolate Genius, he’s once considered famed guitarist Marc Ribot part of his band. In other words, he’s a musician’s musician. One respected by critics who really know the worth of great music. But he’s also proof-positive that simply being famous isn’t as influential or long-lasting as being good. He’s also written a book about Richard Pryor and won three Grammys. He’s so gifted in his own right. A genius, whose talent I hope is around for many years to come. See what I mean and take in a couple of verses off this first track, “Bloom”. Most musicians take a lifetime to get close to touching the hem of these lyrics, but for Joe, it’s just a couple of stanzas in a song and career strew with golden verse:

“There’s little we can’t leave behind
We’ll truly mark this earth
But treachery and love are ours
To keep for all their worth
The flower of our horizon
Is a bloom blood-dark but clear
You hold it in your open hands
To carry on from here …
This song is old as dirt
It speaks of life lived on the line
And far beyond the reach of any thought of yours or mine
Possession is an old part of law that stands on the side of fear
There’s nothing we can hold that means we carry on from here
Oh, where has gone the time we say
Even as it blooms
Over-end-up-ending everything we say it proves
Just ahead or just behind
Casting wide and clear
We stand between the rumbling cars
And carry on from here.”

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