Bill Callahan & Bonnie “Prince” Billy – “Night Rider’s “Lament” (Michael Burton Cover) (Feat. Cory Hanson)
Today is a momentous day in America, and the moment we’ve all been waiting for is here: There’s a new Bill Callahan/Bonnie “Prince” Billy cover song! Just kidding. There have been a lot of those lately. Callahan and his old buddy Will Oldham have been covering a whole lot of songs lately, bringing in a different collaborator for each one. Just this month, they’ve taken on numbers from Lou Reed, Johnnie Frierson, and Air Supply. Today, they’ve taken on an old cowboy number.
As Brooklyn Vegan reports, Callahan and Oldham have just released their cover of “Night Rider’s Lament,” which has nothing to do with Knight Rider. Instead, it’s a song about cowboy life that’s been recorded many times over the years — by Nanci Griffith, by Garth Brooks and Alison Krauss, and by former Callahan/Oldham cover subject Jerry Jeff Walker, among others.
Michael Burton, the man who wrote “Night Rider’s Lament,” was an Alaskan native who worked as a fisherman and cowboy before serving in the Special Forces in Vietnam. Later on, Burton became an archaeologist. In the ’80s, he was a screenwriter, and he co-wrote the movies Flight Of The Navigator and Shoot To Kill. Burton died a little more than a year ago, and the bio on his website is pretty fascinating.
Callahan and Oldham sing “Night Rider’s Lament” like the traditional cowboy song that it is. Callahan sings lead, and there’s no wink in his baritone. (Unlike some of the other people who have sung “Night Rider’s Lament,” Callahan doesn’t attempt to yodel.) This time around, Callahan and Oldham get help from Cory Hanson, frontman of the LA psych-rock band Wand. (Hanson has a solo album called Pale Horse Rider on the way, and I like the idea that he’s into cowboys.) Listen to the Callahan/Oldham take on “Night Rider’s Lament” below.
“Night Rider’s Lament,” like all the other Callahan/Oldham covers, is out now on Drag City.