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Love Letter To A Record: Mama Kin On Gillian Welch’s ‘Time (The Revelator)’

Written by Mama Kin on April 19, 2018

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Here are their love letters to records that forever changed their lives.


Mama Kin, Mama Kin Spender – Gillian Welch And David Rawlings, Time (The Revelator)

Dear Time (The Revelator),

It was the kind of biting and aching cold that I had managed to run from for over 8 years, while I cheated winter, and lay luxuriously in the beating gaze of the sun. It was the first time that I had a reason to stop, a reason bigger than the sun. I had fallen in love.  A big love. The “one” kind of love, and suddenly gravity operated differently upon me, my magnetic centre was orbiting a different sun.

Still though, that love, did not guard me from that snarling, steady, pathological cold.  My deeply tanned skin fell away and revealed a kind of grey, ghost-like glow. We chugged through bottles of gas in the same way we inhaled tea and hot toddies. We hugged the heating systems like life rafts on a sea teaming with tropical-blooded piranhas.

Then our dear friend, Jeff Lang, gave you to us. I was making pasta when John put you on the first time, and my tomato chopping slowed and slowed to a dreamy halt while you and David sang ‘Revelator’, the 6-minute dirge that thoroughly hypnotised me.

Somehow by the end I was sitting propped up near the stereo, holding the CD case, listening intensely while somewhere in the distance the garlic burnt. These songs.  You two. The sentiment.  The intention.  The harmonies.  The discordant perfection.  The songwriting.  The timeless yet utterly current quality of the settings, and the embedded grief, the stark landscapes, the gritty bare truth of it all. Never had I heard music THAT evoked such visual visceral transportation.

You were the reason I started to muse and shape my writings into song prose. I thought, “if I am going to write, now I understand why I would write”. You gave me why.

You gave me an understanding that winter needs to be bitter. Winter holds a kind of dark and perfect beauty, that needles a seething finger into the heart of the matter. This was the condition I needed to know more than any other. And you were the soundtrack to that knowing.

When I hear you playing now, I’m suspended on a line between the present, that winter, and the eerie timelessness of your stories.  I believe you when you say everything is free. I, too, want to play that rock and roll and I’ve had red clay in every crevice of my clothing, you reminded me that we are all dreaming of A highway, and I am forever grateful that we met, in a dreamy winter, while the garlic burnt, and the tomatoes remained uncut for the full 10 songs of your reverie.

Forever yours,
Mama Kin.


Mama Kin Spender’s debut album ‘Golden Magnetic’ is out now. Mama Kin and Spender continue their national tour this month and next, catch all remaining dates here.

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