Mother of Earth
"Mother of Earth" is a song by The Gun Club, originally released on the album, Miami on September 20, 1982. It was covered by The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project, a collaboration of well-known musicians such as Dave Gahan and Suzie Stapleton, and was released as a single on July 22, 2023. It will also appear on the album, The Task Has Overwhelmed Us, to be released on September 29, 2023.
(from original recording)
I've gone down the river of pain
In the dark, under the wires
I hear them call my name
I gave you the key to the highway
And the key to my motel door
And I'm tired of leaving and leaving
I can't come back anymore
Oh, my dark-eyed friend
I've recalled you again
Soft voices that speak nothing
Speak nothing to the end
"Oh, mother of Earth", the blind they call
But, yet stay behind the wall
Their sadness grows like weeds upon my thighs and knees
Oh, mother of Earth, the wind is hot
I tried my best, but I could not
And my eyes fade from me in this open country
"Well, there was one song that we were going to record [for Imposter] from The Gun Club, a Jeffrey Lee Pierce song. We were gonna do "Mother of Earth." And we were kind of knocking it around, me and Rich before we went in to record, but I sort of couldn't find a place in it. So we didn't end up recording it. But just recently, it came back to me because this artist-singer Susie Stapleton — she's Australian, but she lives in Brighton — she's got this project called The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions. And she asked me if I would do a song with her. And so a couple of months back, I said, 'Well, funnily enough, I was gonna do 'Mother of Earth' for the record that I'm just about to release. Do you fancy doing that?' And so she sent me some parts, and we ended up doing it so that record is coming out next year. It's called The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions."1
The Gun Club original has a cowboy-Western feel with a tinge of sadness that it is almost reminiscent of a Johnny Cash classic or something. Combined with the deeply personal and poetic lyrics, I could see this song being a perfect fit for Dave and Soulsavers to cover. It's too bad that it didn't end up on Imposter, but as Dave hinted, it probably wouldn't have ended up being as good as the version he eventually ended up recording with Suzie Stapleton.
And that has now become apparent after hearing the release by the The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project! Even though no Soulsavers personnel were involved in this recording (except Dave, himself, of course), it does retain a hint of that classic Soulsavers sound. Gone are the sliding guitar sounds of the original, though, so it doesn't sound much like a cowboy-Western song; it sounds more like 1960s psychedelic rock to me, but it does retain that tinge of sadness, amplified even more by the slower tempo, violin, and Dave's and Suzie's own soft, melancholy vocals. Suzie has that rough and raw sound that Dave seems to gravitate towards in the music that he likes, so I would be very intrigued and hopeful to hear him do more collaborations with her or vocalists like her!
The video, filmed in black-and-white, shows each of the band members playing their instruments to the song as if in a live setting, with Dave on vocals and electric guitar, Suzie Stapleton on backing vocals and piano, James Johnston on violin, Gavin Jay on electric bass, and Ian White on drums.
Of course the first thing that I noticed and that surprised me upon watching this video was to see Dave playing the electric guitar! I get the feeling that he has always dreamed of being a lead guitarist, chalking it up to his original fandom in punk rock music while growing up. And I know that he has been seen and has spoken multiple times that he enjoys playing around on them both on his own time and while in the studio with Depeche Mode. I really had no idea about his skill level on the guitar, though, but after watching this video, I do have to say that he is quite good! But more than anything, though, I feel like this video has also solidified his skill as a performer. When he sings words like "I've gone down the river of pain," he has me truly believing that those sentiments are his own through his voice and facial expressions. This song and video is a wonderful addition to Dave's repertoire as a musician and performer.