The Western Massachusetts musician Stephen Pierce is releasing his second album as Gold Dust, The Late Great Gold Dust, in a couple of weeks. He’s been pairing each new song from it with a cover — lead single “Proof Of Life” came with one by Karen Dalton, and he covered the Weakerthans when he put out his own “Larks Swarm A Hawk.” Today, Kearse is back with one final pairing: His scratchy, pastoral “Mountain Laurel” is accompanied by his take on Gene Clark’s “In A Misty Morning.” Check both out below.
Here is Pierce’s statement on the track:
I don’t tend to know what the weather’s going to be until it’s happening, just as I don’t tend to know that I’m making some sort of error until everything’s fucked up. In both cases, what can you do but try to make the best of the situation once it’s underway? After all, if it’s pouring rain, you can only get so drenched, right?
So much of this record is centered on the natural world around me, often using that external world to convey some parable of the inner experience, or the outer inexperience, or somewhere in between or outside that all completely. Just beyond my door lies an environment rich with tiny parallels to some inner architecture. For instance, the bittersweet that’s climbing up my trellis: it’s beautiful, and I’m grateful for it, but starts to strangle the lilac, which I’m also grateful for. So I cut the bittersweet back, pull it out at the roots. But it’s back again the next summer, quickly reaching again towards the lilac. I’m not happy about any of it, but it’s how it is. I’m not happy about the carpenter bees who keep burrowing into this one part of the wood siding, no matter how many times I seal it up, nor am I particularly thrilled about the woodpeckers who drill further holes into that piece of siding to try to get at the bees. And that’s all just steps from my door, for fuck’s sake.
In a way, “Mountain Laurel” is about trying to be at peace with what’s around you, for better or for (more often) worse. It’s about a whole acceptance of the strange ecosystem that is the self: the good, the bad, the emails you sent that make you cringe when you read them back, the ego you’re trying to destroy but that still shows up from time to time, the look back at a past pockmarked with opportunities to have been better than you ended up being, the people who have left, the people who have stayed. Those that are gone for good. The hope that you can find something to appreciate about who you are right. at. this. very. moment. and look with at least some form of gratitude back at the road that got you here, and god willing never have to navigate that road again.
It gets dark sometimes. You don’t always have to have a light to shine in it.
You can just sit with the darkness and wait for it to pass, if it’ll pass.
Thanks for listening, I hope you like the song.
The Late Great Gold Dust is out 11/4 via Centripetal Force Records.