Song of the Week – Deeper Well, David Olney

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

Today’s SotW was written by guest contributor, Michael Paquette.  Michael and I have known each other for over 40 years.  Our friendship has been based, in large part, over our mutual love of music.  When he was in college at Brandeis University, he had a radio show called Excuse Me While I Play The Blues that incorporated music by some of the great artists that inhabited the Austin music scene he experienced and enjoyed when he lived there in the late seventies.  He still finds the time to go to shows and favors folk and Americana.  That will be clear when you read his post.

David Olney was a Nashville singer-songwriter for nearly five decades.  He passed away on January 18th while on stage in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.  He was a giant among the musicians in the Nashville scene.  “As soon as he moved into a room, he had a charisma that I would liken to Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson. Oh, Olney’s here,” said musician/journalist Peter Cooper. He was admired by the brilliant songwriter Townes Van Zandt.  Even the Rolling Stones were compelled to attend one of his shows. His songs were covered by many renowned artists including Linda Ronstadt, Steve Earle, Del McCoury, and Slaid Cleaves.

Olney’s songs always make you feel something — sorrow, nostalgia or just the need to smile.  This song, “Deeper Well,” that was covered by Emmylou Harris on her transcendent 1995 release Wrecking Ball, is a dark and dirge-like composition performed here with Blair Hogan.

The “deeper well” in this song appears as the young man who seeks love in a deep, dark place.  It could also be a metaphor for making a deal with Satan in exchange for the inspiration for his music, much like Robert Johnson’s “Me and the Devil Blues.”

Well, I did it for kicks and I did it for faith
I did it for lust and I did it for hate
I did it for need and I did it for love
Addiction stayed on tight like a glove
So I ran with the moon and I ran with the night
And the three of us were a terrible sight
Nipple to the bottle, to the gun, to the cell
To the bottom of a hole of a deeper well

On the night he died, Olney was performing on stage with Amy Rigby.  She wrote on her Facebook page that “he stopped, apologized and shut his eyes. He was very still, sitting upright with his guitar on, wearing the coolest hat and a beautiful rust suede jacket…”  But he wasn’t sleeping.  An attempt was made to revive him, but he just drifted off.  Olney was 71.  A gentle and well-loved soul, the world has lost a great one whose music still inspires.

Enjoy… until next week.

2 thoughts on “Song of the Week – Deeper Well, David Olney

  1. Thanks Michael. I learned of this sadness but didn’t know David’s music. So much we don’t know, blessings to his family and friends for their loss.

    And I hope to listen more.

  2. The lyrics you show were not in Dave Olneys version. Emmylou Harris modified Deeper Well’s lyrics, but those on his original version were better, much better in my opinion.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.