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