Song of the Week – Don’t You Grieve, Roy Harper


Roy Harper has been a successful performer and recording artist for over 50 years but he is not nearly as well known to Americans as he is to his fellow countrymen in the UK. For instance, he earned a Lifetime Achievement Award from the BBC and Hero Award from MOJO magazine.

His extensive discography contains plenty of terrific albums including one bona fide classic – Stormcock. If you haven’t heard it, you should. (Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page plays on it under the pseudonym S. Flavius Mercurius.)

Today’s SotW comes from his 1970 album Flat Baroque and Berserk. “Don’t You Grieve” is timely during this Easter weekend as it has Harper getting into the head of Judas Iscariot and justifying the kiss that locked his place in history for all time. After all, it was something he had to do.

I was the master’s best friend
He was the only man I knew
It’s been a tall harvest
And he turned us all on two
But my lips are sealed by history
And my tale I cannot tell
My name is Judas Iscariot
My home address is Hell

So baby don’t you grieve after me
No no no, don’t you grieve after me
So baby don’t you grieve after me
No no no, don’t you grieve after me

Baby you don’t grieve for me when I’m here
Don’t grieve for me when I’m gone

It was two hours gone midnight
When he called me to his side
He said, hey Jude, I need you boy
I need you to take a ride
I want you to tell those guys down town
My time’s almost due. But wait a minute
Jude don’t stick around
‘Cos no body’s gonna love you

Now you’ve got all the silver
But no forgiveness in your heart
And I’ve got 20 feet of rope
To end just where?
Your guessing game starts
I’ve got endless books to write you
But my tale I cannot tell
The only way you’re living is
If you’re living in the same Hell

The song is played and sung in a style reminiscent of very early Dylan – just guitar and nasally voice. Perhaps Dylan is the link back to Woody Guthrie, who’s “Sally Don’t You Grieve” must have influenced Harper.

Other trivia related to Harper? That’s him taking the vocals on Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar” from Wish You Were Here. Led Zeppelin III has a song called “Hat’s off to (Roy) Harper”, a tribute to their old friend and musical influence.

Enjoy… until next week.

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