William Elliott Whitmore – Field Songs

January 01, 1970




His name sounds like that
of a 19th century poet, or more pointedly, a dusty, world weary
troubadour battling head-on against the fierce headwinds of modern day
travails. And indeed, with his appropriately titled Field Songs, William Elliott Whitmore imagines himself as a
reincarnation of Woody Guthrie or the early Bob Dylan, waxing on the fading
fortunes that’s befallen inhabitants of America’s heartland engulfed by the
tumult of today’s current economic upheaval.


Whitmore’s muse is hardly
unique; the troubles and travails of the past few years have formed the musical
fodder for many a blue collar rocker, be it Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp
or Billy Bragg. Regardless, Whitmore takes a humbler approach, one that sees
him eschewing any accompaniment save a sole guitar or banjo and the constant
chirping of frogs and insects recorded in the wild. Like a sepia tinged
collection of archival recordings foraged from the Smithsonian, stark, strained
homilies like “Bury Your Burdens in the Ground,” “Don’t Need It” and “Let’s Do
Something Impossible” emulate the homegrown blues, folk and gospel songs once
intoned by field workers in the rural south. “We’re here for just a little
while/Like a deathbed man who can’t hold on, everything gets gone” he moans on
“Everything Gets Gone,” echoing the despair that’s taken its toll on a bruised


Even so, Whitmore reflects
the tireless resolve of a ragged warrior, and on “Not Feeling Any Pain” and
“Field Song,” he rails with the resilience found in some of The Boss’ best
anthems. Whitmore may not have the same potential to fill the nation’s arenas,
but his rugged determination finds him undeterred regardless.


DOWNLOAD: “Bury Your
Burdens in the Ground,” “Not Feeling Any Pain” LEE ZIMMERMAN

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