When I first heard Medicine Head’s song, “When Night Falls,” I truly thought it was a new release. I was introduced to their “New Bottles, Old Medicine” album around 2008. This song especially reminded me of all the effortless, hazy sounds very much alive at the time by artists like Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes and more “freak folk” modern artists like Devendra Banhart and Brightblack Morning Light.
This song was actually released in 1970. It still seems so visionary and pioneering. It pre-dated similarly-influenced indie bands by nearly 40 years! The whole album is a showcase of beautifully-structured folk songs with some blues rock tracks that are really fun. But “When Night Falls” just soothes me like a musical balm, liniment, salve… or haunts me like old love.
Here in these few minutes it feels like night truly has fallen to dark. The contemplative vocals, that almost motionless percussion, and the nearly breathless harmonica manage to create a feeling of nighttime’s stillness. The listener can piece together other sounds using the band’s cues; heartbreak or loneliness set in, crickets tick the seconds, a relationship can save everything by hands held in the dark.
This may be a slow-paced song but it creates room for so much. By Medicine Head painting a night-scape musically, the listener can enjoy the mellow quality, find inspiration, or fill in the blanks of a blank-dark night and see where things go.
Be sure to wear long sleeves, a jacket, a bulky sweater or a heavy caftan because this track might induce chills. I hope you find this song with the awe I did and still do. Additionally, if you enjoy music trivia you really should read more about this group. You might find a unique connection to “Dark Side of the Moon.” Medicine Head has some interesting ties with several well-known bands from the UK. Enjoy!
(Song recommendation by K Weber)