Annabelle ~ Gillian Welch

Gillian Welch is an American singer-songwriter. She performs with her musical and life partner, guitarist David Rawlings. Their sparse and dark musical style, which combines elements of Appalachian music, Bluegrass, and Americana, is described by The New Yorker as “at once innovative and obliquely reminiscent of past rural forms”.

Welch and Rawlings have released five critically acclaimed albums. Their 1996 debut, Revival, and the 2001 release Time (The Revelator), received nominations for the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album. Their 2003 album, Soul Journey, introduced electric guitar, drums and a more upbeat sound to their body of work. After a gap of eight years, they released their fifth studio album, The Harrow & The Harvest, in 2011.

Welch was an associate producer and performed on two songs of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, a platinum album that won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 2002. Welch has collaborated and recorded with distinguished musicians such as Alison Krauss, Ryan Adams, Jay Farrar, Emmylou Harris, The Decemberists, and Ani DiFranco. Welch and Rawlings perform at many music festivals.

GillianHoward Welch was born on October 2, 1967 in New York City, and was adopted by Ken and Mitzie Welch, comedy and music entertainers.  Her biological mother was a freshman in college, and her father was a musician visiting New York City.  Welch has speculated that her biological father could have been one of her favorite musicians, and she later discovered from her adoptive parents that he was a drummer.   Alec Wilkinson of The New Yorker stated that “from an address they had been given, it appeared that her mother … may have grown up in the mountains of North Carolina”.  When Welch was three, her adoptive parents moved to Los Angeles to write music for The Carol Burnett Show. They also appeared on The Tonight Show.

As a youngster, Welch was introduced to the music of American folk singers Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and the Carter Family. She performed folk songs with her peers at the Westland Elementary School in Los Angeles.  Welch later attended Crossroads School, a high school in Santa Monica, California. While in high school, a local television program featured her as a student who “excelled at everything she did”. 

When a student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Welch played bass in a goth band, and drums in a psychedelic surf band.  In college, a roommate played an album by the bluegrass band The Stanley Brothers, and she had an epiphany:

The first song came on and I just stood up and I kind of walked into the other room as if I was in a tractor beam and stood there in front of the stereo. It was just as powerful as the electric stuff, and it was songs I’d grown up singing. All of a sudden I’d found my music.

After graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in photography, Welch attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she majored in songwriting.  During her two years studying at Berklee, Welch gained confidence as a performer. Welch met her music partner David Rawlings at a successful audition for Berklee’s only country band.

Annabelle

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I lease twenty acres and one Jenny mule
From the Alabama trust
Half of the cotton, a third of the corn
Ya get a handful of dust

And we can not have all things to please us
No matter how we try
Until we’ve all gone to Jesus
We can only wonder why

I had a daughter called her Annabelle
She’s the apple of my eye
Tried to give her something like I never had
I didn’t want to ever hear her cry

And we can not have all things to please us
No matter how we try
Until we’ve all gone to Jesus
We can only wonder why

When I’m dead and buried I’ll take a hard life of tears
For every day I’ve ever known
Anna’s in the churchyard, she’s got no life at all
She’s only got these words on a stone

And we can not have all things to please us
No matter how we try
Until we’ve all gone to Jesus
We can only wonder why
Until we’ve all gone to Jesus
We only wonder why

  • Audio from the 1996 album, Revival:

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About DJ Allyn

DJ Allyn is a burned out radio guy who went on to become a burned out sound engineer for a few Seattle area grunge bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the madness of worldwide tours with bands, cleaned up my act and went into the relative sanity of sound engineering for television series. Currently working as the Director of Sound for a television series being filmed in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I am always on the lookout for interesting videos, old music, and fun.

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