The stream-a-day MySpace rollout of the Dessner brothers’ Dark Was The Night charity compilation gets a bump today with a trio of tracks, courtesy of a cute little widget player and a smattering of heavy hitting contributors. There’s the Decemberists’ eight-minute cure for insomnia ironically titled “Sleepless,” for starters, but after you get drowsy skip on to the pair of cuts which feature the National twins. First there’s Bryce Dessner sitting in with Antony on the rolling, open-road acoustic cut “I Was Young When I Left Home,” which sees Hegarty embodying yet another of Arthur Russell’s various, varying modes, the song sounding something like an outtake to last year’s outstanding Chris Taylor-compiled Russell rarity comp Love Is Overtaking Me. After that there’s a second contribution from Justin Vernon, who joins with Aaron Dessner, a piano, and a string section on “Big Red Machine.” Listen:
It’s amazing to consider there’s 20+ artists on this compilation, and in listening you never need to consult a tracklist to know the personnel of any given track; hat tip to the Dessner’s for pulling together the most recognizable voices in independent music today for such a worthy cause. And I know it’s been assembled to benefit AIDS research and not year-end lists, but honestly if this thing was pared to one disc — or if it was staggered and released in Volumes with the gems on the first installment — Dark Was The Night could top the 2009 list show. It’ll probably do pretty well anyway. I’ll stop talking about lists now. Dark Was The Night is out 2/17. Preorder here. It’s worth it.
Also worth noting, Sean Penn won the SAG Award for his portrayal of Harvey Milk last night, saying “As actors we don’t play gay or straight, we play human beings, and this was a story about equal rights for all human beings.” Maybe that was for Antony.