12th July 2021
It is unsurprising that there have been so many covers of the Blind Faith classic ‘Can’t Find My Way Home’ over the years. It is such a good song. The SecondHandSongs.com site alone lists 70 versions and I ascertained that there are even more out there. Why today’s fascination for a 51-year-old song that I’ve already featured three versions of over the years? The answer is Rachel Price, that beautiful Aussie/USA Jazz Blues singer from Lake Street Dive (whom I featured recently)
Admittedly, Rachel could sing the stock listings page and make it sound wonderful, but this is a truly special rendition of one of my favourite songs. While Rachel gets on with the main vocal, well-known multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, Chris Thile adds the perfect harmony and mandolin expertise. Add to this Chris Eldridge (Guitar – Incredible String Busters), Brittany Haas (Fiddle – Crooked Still), Mike Elizondo (Bass – 50 Cent, Eminem, Carrie Underwood, Fiona Apple, Ry Cooder, Skylar Grey and Twenty One Pilots…), Chris Bruce (Guitar), and Ted Poor (Drums). Although you may not know some of these names, these are all widely respected in their various genres.
Seeing that I was immediately inspired to share this version, I thought that it could be fun to find another few takes on a much-loved favourite that warrant your attention. I don’t think you’ll be sorry. But first, here’s Rachel Price and Co.
The end of the 60s was marked with turmoil in the music industry and one of the many bands to be affected was Cream. Incessant infighting within the band saw Eric Clapton distancing himself from Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce. Clapton was getting tired of commercially driven blues. He met up with Steve Winwood who had also just broken up with Traffic. And so Blind Faith was born.
Clapton was hesitant about forming a new band, but Winwood was driven, especially when Ginger Baker pitched up unannounced to a jam session. Steve Winwood was a big fan of Baker’s and wanted him to be in the band, adding to Eric’s doubts. Eventually they agreed to go ahead with the project and bassist Rick Grech joined as the 4th member and they entered the recording studio.
The finished (and only) album contained just eight tracks, mostly composed by Steve Winwood. ‘Cant Find My Way Home’ is the second track and is regarded widely as one of the best, some say defining, moments of the entire album. The song’s lyrics imply of rockers who had burned out but the late 60’s. Blind Faith’s self-titled album was an instant commercial success in the USA and UK and although fans and the record moguls wanted the band to tour they were hesitant. They played their first small gigs in June of 1969 and by August had played their last show in Hawaii. The band split with a main problem being the lack of original material and the dissatisfaction of padding a set out with old Cream numbers.
My second choice of cover comes from the late, great gravel-voiced Joe Cocker. He strips away any trace of whimsy in this live version. This was filmed in 1996 in Baden-Baden and must have been toward the end of the set when you see how sweat soaked Joe is.
I was very excited I was when I stumbled across this clip. It doesn’t feature on any list of covers I can find, mainly because it is a rather special 49-year-old bootleg. The only info I can share is that it is from a jam session held at New York’s Ultrasonic Studios in 1972 and, of course, the musicians featured – and what a line-up it is.
I am sure that there has never been a time when Bonnie Raitt wasn’t brilliant. This is a very young Bonnie at a live gig and features the late Lowell George (Little Feat), the acoustic blues legend John Hammond Jr, and a man who has worked regularly with Bonnie Raitt throughout her career, bassist and producer Freebo (Daniel Friedburg). Bonnie gives a running commentary through the lengthy 2+ minutes of tuning up before the music begins, so skip it if you want to. This is a lovely bit of music history that you’ll probably never hear again (unless you hunt it down) and for a bootleg the recording quality is remarkably crisp and clear.
Thanks for joining me on this little exploration into a song that will probably carry on being covered for another 50-years at least. Keep safe folks – Catch you soon.
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Words © Andrew Knapp 2021