Dustbowl Children

Album: Paper Airplane (2011)
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Songfacts®:

  • This is a track from Paper Airplane, the 14th album by bluegrass-country singer-songwriter Alison Krauss and Union Station. The Union Station is Alison Krauss' backing band, who comprise Dan Tyminski (guitar, mandolin and lead vocals), Barry Bales (bass and harmony vocals), Ron Block (banjo, guitar and harmony vocals), and Jerry Douglas (dobro and harmony vocals).

    The song takes the perspective of someone who lived through the Dust Bowl, which was a long drought in the '30s that wreaked havoc on American farmland. Life in the Dust Bowl was a frequent topic of Woody Guthrie's songs.
  • The song features the vocals of Dan Tyminski, who is best known vocally for his updated version of the song "Man of Constant Sorrow," which was featured in the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? and won the 2001 CMA award for best single.
  • Tyminski sings on three Paper Airplane tracks. Krauss told UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph how she decides which songs should feature his voice rather than hers. "I have my own version of Dan that I like best. You know, he puts up with it and he's not into hearing about it as much as I am about talking about it. He's his own man and he can deliver super passionate singing, singing against the elements, things that are massive. He jokes, 'Let's see Alison, you want me to be a farmer or a soldier again . . . which is it this time, a farmer or a soldier.' But he sings great on Dust Bowl and on Syndey Cox's brilliant (tune)."
  • American bluegrass musician Peter Rowan wrote the song, which was originally the title track of his 1990 solo album. Krauss explained to The Boot why she decided to cover it: "I've thought about that tune forever. It was on an album of his [Peter Rowan] called Dustbowl Children that Jerry [Douglas] had produced, like, 3,000 years ago. My brother [Viktor Krauss] would do rock versions of that song with distorted guitar! The song is just beautiful. I can just see Dan standing on top of a mountain somewhere singing that song [laughs]."

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