Arundel is one of my favorite songs ever...A short version begins Papa M's "Live from a Shark Cage" album and a longer version (posted here) closes the album. It is the epitome of patience. It sits somewhere between a wedding march, a funeral dirge, and a quiet prayer to God in mood. If they played this at my funeral i think I would be happy. It's everything I love about an electrified guitar tone...it's like dirt under fingernails, with vibrato choking the notes just enough to draw tears.

Which leads to Mogwai's cover of the same song for Temporary Residence's Travels in Constants series. (For those who don't know, David Pajo/Papa M played banjo on their album Rock Action and they also put out his "Papa M Sings" album on their label Rock Action). Mogwai replaces the vibrato electric guitar with a piano. The recording is muddy and the sustain pedal is held most of the time, so in much the same way, the notes argue with one another to be the top of the heap. This is everything I love about the tone of a piano. Reminds me of playing piano in a large dark room with no one else around halfway between being awake and asleep.

Later Mr. Pajo gave it another try on his "Whatever, Mortal" album. Only this time, it's called Northwest Passage. The electric guitar and piano of the two previous versions are now accompanied by banjo, acoustic guitar, glockenspiel, a pinch of synth, drums, a hint of distant slide guitar? and harmonica. There's also additional call and response between the instruments not found on the super-sparse earlier versions. It's very America, it's very much a jam, and it's a far cry from the first version, but it's a beautiful closing to an album that's much more open, alive, and hopeful.

Papa M - Arundel

Mogwai - Arundel
Papa M - Northwest Passage


  • At 6:20 PM, April 07, 2006, Blogger coxon le woof said…

    Great post.

    Love Papa M and all over David Pajo's various incarnations.

  • At 7:18 PM, April 07, 2006, Anonymous Pole said…

    Great post and great song! First time I hear it and it will very probably become one of my favorite ones too.

  • At 10:28 PM, April 07, 2006, Blogger GiL said…

    i've always thought that arundel by mogwai has an enyaesque aura around it.

    i didn't know it was Pajo's.

    i prefer the original now.

  • At 10:23 AM, April 08, 2006, Blogger Moka said…

    I've heard Papa M's but didn't knew Mogwai had it covered :P.

    I still like Papa M's original one the best but Pajo's rework on "northwest passage" sounds pretty leet too, new for me, thanks.

    Eagle you should do a 5/8 song list with you favorite songs, if this is one of your favorite songs ever I can't imagine how good the rest of your picks would be.

  • At 10:43 AM, April 08, 2006, Blogger like a eagle said…

    ha...i wish i could...the few times i've tried to really really narrow it down, i can't get below 40 songs...and from there, I'll remember 10 more songs that are just as important...

    spread out like this, it will be more suspenseful and people will have to keep coming back for more...

    I'm a "quality not quantity" type of guy... :)
    thanks for all of the nice words!

  • At 1:53 PM, April 08, 2006, Blogger Squashed said…

    temporaryresidence has been putting out some good post-rock stuff lately. I love em.

  • At 5:36 PM, April 10, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    He also played it with Zwan, it was then called "Behold! A Pale Horse."

  • At 3:02 AM, April 11, 2006, Anonymous Luis said…

    First time I heard this. Lovely tune, instant favorite. Thanks.

  • At 11:26 AM, June 14, 2012, Anonymous Machinery Values said…

    Excellent song. I love all three versions.


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