A Sea of Heroes, Part 5: The Decemberists – June Hymn

    This is to me as close as it gets to a perfect song. It maybe comes on a bit unassuming on ’The King Is Dead’, but it’s just not the same record in my eyes without this song. I also know a few Decemberists fan who’ll go ”’The King Is Dead’? Why not do something off ’Picaresque’? Or ’The Crane Wife’?” Well granted, there’s loads and loads of good songs to choose from. But I didn’t just want to go down the most popular sort of road, like picking to cover ’16 Military Wives’ although I love that song as well. And besides, I simply fell in love with ’The King Is Dead’ the first time I heard it and still love it exactly as much as I did at first listen. Writing this right now, I’m actually feeling like immediately putting it on. I don’t know what it is about that record. Maybe it’s because it was recorded in a barn, I don’t know. But there’s something about the sound of the record and the instruments that inspired me on my own journey putting together my songs for the album and the EPs. Just roughing it, you know. Outside the pristine studio environment. That’s just the kind of subtle anarchy that appeals to me. 

    ’June Hymn’ was also kind of the benchmark on how I wanted to approach this whole ’A Sea of Heroes’ series. I don’t think I’ve ever looked up the chords or played along to the record to figure out how it goes. Instead I’ve always just played it by ear. And that’s what I decided to do with all the other tracks in the end as well. But this was one of, if not THE first. 

    So once you start and try to put your own take on someone else’s songs like that, a lot of ideas start floating around your head and I think the first one was that I wanted to play it as a trio and not just the singer-songwriter style like it is on the record. I could never match Colin’s performance on that. But after that shit got a bit out of hand I suppose. I started to look at ways to utilize every asset I had with the trio arrangement. So obviously I then came up with a vocal arrangement for the whole song that I’m actually quietly proud of. Took me a while to write it, but I think it was worth the time and brain wreckage. 

    Anyway, it’s one of my all time favourite songs in the world and I hope I was able to do it a little bit of justice on this cover version! 

    Talk to you soon! 

    Jon

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