“This is a song about seeking respite from a disappointment, from pain… turning to nature for comfort. It is deeply worn: Gone my summer dream… gone to leave me here to weep my tears into the stream… I couldn’t get the feel of it with a typical swing vibe such as Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald would perform.
While I was working with the song, I also heard some beautiful, spare and poignant music of composer Manuel de Falla. In 1915, he had returned from Paris, and was drawn to the folk songs of his Spanish homeland. He composed a suite of seven of them, using authentic texts of folk material. In one of them, ‘Asturiana’, the singer describes sadness, crying, sitting beside a pine tree for comfort, and feeling the pine tree cry too. Almost 20 years later, Ann Ronell captured the same human experience in Willow Weep for Me during the Depression years when ease was in short supply. A musical theme that is meaningful in any place, any era.
In my recording of this song, I wanted to reach into that universal experience of loss, turning for comfort, for something solid and gentle, for silence and a little time to pull it back together before facing the world again. I asked composer Tom Disher to draw these ideas together in the piano arrangement. His piano unfolds has a feeling of timelessness, a little haunting that catches the lyric from the hills of Spain, and from the loss of the US Depression era.
At one of the first live performances of this song, a fella from the audience came to me after the set. His voice had a catch in it as he told me that he remembered hearing his mother sing that song to him, and it had taken him far into the past. Music sidles into the tilted places within us and invites us to make them whole again.“