Down River

December 9, 2008

I don’t usually write about music, but it’s not as if I’ve been writing much about movies lately either, and the person I’m most obsessed with at the moment is not Harvey Milk or Che Guevara or David Frost, but a less well-known hero of the counterculture, David Ackles. Until Elvis Costello’s Sundance Channel talk show/muso-love-in Spectacle last week I’d never heard of Ackles, a singer-songwriter who made four albums between 1968 and 1973 and then vanished from the limelight (he died in 1999). Elvis and guest Elton John not only raved about him but also performed a duet of his “Down River”, a song I can’t stop listening to. You can see the tail end of their performance here, but after that listen to the original: a heartbreaking, Raymond Carveresque narrative sung by a man newly released from three years in jail to an old girlfriend he’s run into. Not exactly a cheery song for the holidays but it’s the best thing I’ve heard in ages.


One comment

  1. It’s hard to hear the words (muffled?)on David Ackles’ recording available for download.
    Is there a good copy for download of him singing it?

    If not, do you know of reccordings of this song, by other artists, that are available.
    (I found one by someone else on MP3Shake.)


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