Music

Hear Kathy Mattea’s Stripped-Down ‘I Can’t Stand Up Alone’

Kathy Mattea’s new LP Pretty Bird, out Sept. 7 on her own Captain Potato label, includes a recently unveiled cover of Martha Carson composition “I Can’t Stand Up Alone.” It previews the “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses” singer’s first album of new songs since her 2014 celebration of Appalachian music, Calling Me Home.

Mattea’s interpretation of the song, written in the late ’50s by a country-gospel legend, bears a close resemblance to the late singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester’s arrangement. As the lead single off an album named for a Hazel Dickens song rightly should, its sparse feel continues Mattea’s exploration of modern country and folk’s rural Southern origins.

It’s one of several stripped-down, acoustic-based covers of classic songs, ranging from Bobbie Gentry’s mysterious “Ode to Billie Joe” to Scottish folk song “This Love Will Carry,’ featuring songwriter Dougie MacLean on harmony vocals. Beyond Nashville standards and folk tunes, the new album also features versions of Joan Osborne’s “St. Teresa,” “Holy Now” by Peter Mayer and The Wood Brothers’ “Chocolate on My Tongue.”

For Mattea, creating a covers album that furthers her career should be old hat. She became a mainstream country music star after the top 10 success of her 1986 treatment of Nanci Griffith’s “Love at the Five and Dime.” Additional hits include 1989’s “Come From The Heart,” a Susanna Clark co-write. She also found success with songs written by husband Jon Vezner, including the the Grammy-winning “Where’ve You Been.”

With each addition to her greatest hits, Mattea proved to have not just the voice but also the intrinsic talent to add her own point of view to others’ songs without overshadowing their original appeal or intent. Like her peer Patti Loveless, she was one of the great song interpreters of her time — a talent that shouldn’t be lost on listeners in 2018.

“I Can’t Stand Up Alone” Lyrics

One of these days I’m gonna take a vacation
To a quiet and a peaceful shore
And I’ll cool my feet in those crystal waters
Where I won’t have to work anymore.

‘Cause my burden has got a little heavy
Till I can’t stand up all alone
I must lay my head down on one strong shoulder
‘Cause I can’t stand up all alone.

No, you can’t stand up all by yourself
You can’t stand up alone
You need the touch of a mighty hand
You can’t stand up alone.

And trouble, I have seen trouble
All around my door
Go away and leave me old man trouble
I don’t want your trouble anymore.

You can’t stand up all by yourself
You can’t stand up alone
You need the touch of a mighty hand
You can’t stand up alone.

And a voice came down just like thunder
And light all around me shown
The voice said : ‘Get up child’
‘And grab hold of my hand ’cause you can’t stand up all alone’.

You can’t stand up all by yourself
You can’t stand up alone
You need the touch of a mighty hand
You can’t stand up alone

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Hear Kathy Mattea’s Stripped-Down ‘I Can’t Stand Up Alone’