MP3: Black Is The Color Of My True Espers Hair, at Twilight. Singers?
Black Is The Color Of My True Love's Hair has rather a complicated past. As far as I can work out, it seems to have been taken by Scottish immigrants when they travelled to the Appalachians, but nobody seems quite sure who introduced it to the wider world. Many many versions have been transcribed (some of the first being made around 1916), but one of the most important recordings was made when Maud Karpeles travelled to the Appalachians in the early 1950's and recorded a local singer named Lizzie Roberts. It now has a place in the Library of Congress, and has influenced many many more recordings of the song. Versions have been recorded by Pete Seeger, Nina Simone, Burl Ives, Liam Weldon, The Reivers and The Famous Jug Band. You can find out more about the rather confused history of the tune at The Mudcraft Cafe, here and here.
Meanwhile here are two very recent versions of the song. First up is a version from Espers' 2005 covers album The Weed Tree, as influenced by the Jug Band version from the 60s, and second is a rather heavier version recorded by Greg Dulli's The Twilight Singers for their 2004 covers album She Loves You. I think they're both totally stunning.
The Twilight Singers play the Reading and Leeds festival this weekend, in the Carling Tent with help from Mark Lanegan, and Espers will play a short British tour this November.
Espers - Black Is The Color
The Twilight Singers - Black Is The Color Of My True Love's Hair