Ben Harper and Rhiannon Giddens have teamed up for a cover of “Black Eyed Dog” by Nick Drake. The song marks the first known collaboration between the two performers, and could possibly point to a new project on the horizon. Harper hasn’t released a full studio album since 2018’s No Mercy In This Land, and Giddens’ latest work was there is no Other alongside Francesco Turrisi in 2019.
The song, one of the last Drake ever recorded before his death in 1974, was not officially released until 1987 on the Time of No Reply posthumous collection. On the track, Harper dons his trusty steel lap guitar while Giddens plays the fretless banjo and viola, while both contribute vocals.
“Black Eyed Dog” is a haunting song, even for Nick Drake. Despite the fact that he grew up in the U.K., the tune encapsulates feelings of the mountainous regions far better than many Appalachian songwriters. In spite of a few varying lyrics, or perhaps because of them, the song prompts deep melancholy with the phrase “I’m growing old and I want to go home/I’m growing old and I don’t want to know.”
“Rhiannon and I are both black purveyors of American roots music, and while this is not an anomaly, it is an exception within a subculture,” Harper said. “We have unquestionably tapped into the same creative well of influence, carrying on the tradition through our own individual instincts and perspectives.”
“I felt that spirit in [Harper] right off,” Giddens said of meeting the singer-songwriter for the first time, “and knew if we ever got the chance, we could make something beautiful together.”
Listen to Ben Harper and Rhiannon Giddens cover “Black Eyed Dog” by Nick Drake.
Ben Harper, Rhiannon Giddens — “Black Eyed Dog” (Nick Drake)
[Video: ANTI- Records]
[H/T Rolling Stone]