In Search of Love & Redemption in America:The Pines

In Search of Love & Redemption in America:The Pines

Sorrow+Longing+Sweetness=Beauty. And there is such beauty here in the plaintive songs of The Pines, such sparseness of arrangement, that you can hear the haunting echoes of a distant time into the past and a distant time into the future that —in some magical way— meet at the NowPoint. If Dylan could sing like a bird with a broken wing and play a slide guitar (who himself is a god of songwriting and vocal performance) he’d sound something like Benson Ramsey.

There is a garden in the desert if you look closely enough at night and a desert in every garden that has seen neglect. The Pines sing of these little things that are loved and missed when the keen eye of the heart has been blinded by the arrows of sorrow . Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote that “the problem of restoring to the world original and eternal beauty, is solved by the redemption of the soul.” (see Emerson’s essay on Nature).There is redemption in these pages of tattered scripture without the dripping sentiment of piety or the odorous smell of fishy religion.

Sean Moeller wrote of his time spent with the songs of David Huckfelt and Benson Ramsey of The Pines, born in Iowa and who now live in the Minnesota North Country:

“It’s the sense you get in a lot of Pines songs, where there’s love and there’s compassion in the face of less of it, or in the fading of it, but there’s something else at work that has darker ideas churning. They sing, ‘We all stand exposed, shivering in the meadows at dawn,’ and it seems as if it’s not a line that has any particular scenario, but references most of our moments as they last and as they find us.”


Below I’ve chosen three songs and include the lyrics that I believe well depict the potion of terrible beauty that The Pines can’t help but give us. Maybe they can help lead some of us back who have lost our way to those little things we’ve forgotten to love enough. There is little time left this time around, so hurry to a nook somewhere, sit down, and give these soulful boys a listen.

–An important side note: The Pines have slowly grown their band to include banjo player Michael Rossetto (Spaghetti Western String Co.), drummer J.T. Bates (Michel Portal, John Gorka), bassist James Buckley (Ed Harcourt, Daniel Johnston, Dosh) and Benson’s brother, Alex Ramsey on keyboards. I suspect the third man in the illustration that frames my blog is Benson’s brother, Alex Ramsey.


Don’t Let Me Go

I’m all dressed up
Ain’t got nowhere to go
Is there something on your mind
Is there something I should know

Take me, take me
Far away into your dreams
And just leave me be
Just leave me there for evermore

Don’t let me go
Not even if I start to cryin’
If true love lasts forever
Then I guess it don’t matter if we die then

Don’t let me go, Don’t let me go . . .

I got a bird that whistles
I got a bird that sings
I got a little baby bird
With a big broken wing

I’m gonna pretend this is heaven
You know, just in case
I get up to the gates
And they don’t recognize my face

Don’t let me go, don’t let me go . . .


Light Under the Door

The end of the night is near
The blue light of dawn is glowing
I’ll follow you through the lightning and the snowing
There’s a light under the door

I remember the last time I saw you
You were sitting on the porch with your wife
You had a big smile on your face and a baby on the way

But now you’ve gone away
To a place where you’ll never grow old
The hanging garden is hanging low
and there’s a light under the door

Your little red house is for sale
And every now and then you still get mail
If it’s true that it’s a sin to be born
Then death is forgiveness, I guess

But you will always be my friend
No matter where we go
I’ll drivin’ through the lightning and the snow
and there’s a light under the door


Careless Love ( adapted by The Pines; originally written by W.C Handy, Martha E Koenig, Spencer Williams)

Oh love oh love, oh careless love (repeat x 3)
Can’t you see what careless love has done

Been gone and it’s broken this heart of mine (repeat x 3)
It’ll break that heart of yours sometime

Oh now my apron string walked in (repeat x 3)
You walked past my door but you don’t come in

I cried last night and the night before (repeat x 3)
I’m gonna cry tonight and ain’t gonna cry no more

I love my mama and my papa too (repeat x 3)
You know I left ’em both just to be with you

Now can’t you see what careless love can do (repeat x 3)
Make you kill yourself and your sweetheart, too

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