Bela Flek & Abigail Washburn recorded their music video for the song, “And Am I Born to Die,” at a “secret local spot” on the side of the mountain just a stone’s throw from the Eagle’s Nest. It’s a potent place and the song has a powerful and haunting message.
Here’s the lovely video and lyrics. Enjoy!
Soon as from earth I go
What will become of me
Eternal happiness or a war
What shall my poor son be
A land of deepest shame
Unpierced by human thought
The dreary regions of the dead
Where all things are forgot
And am I born to die
To lay this body down
And must my trembling spirit fly
Into a world unknown
More about the story of how they came to film the music video at this spot from the Wall Street Journal:
“And Am I Born to Die” is a song that has endured, and Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn perform it in a setting to match in a video premiering today on Speakeasy.
The husband-wife duo plays the song on an outcrop over the Pacific Ocean near Cannon Beach, Ore., where the sea and sky add to the desolate feel of a song that English minister Charles Wesley wrote 250 years ago (though the best-known shape-note arrangement dates to the early 19th century in Virginia). Washburn sings the ancient, searching lyrics in a lonesome voice, and Fleck accompanies her with a spare, ghostly banjo part.
The song was part of Doc Watson’s repertoire, and Washburn got to know the tune after attending the singer and guitarist’s memorial service in Deep Gap, N.C., in 2012. “I was inspired to learn the song because of the experience of going to Doc’s funeral and seeing him in the open casket, and hearing the music of his family and friends in his hometown church,” Washburn says by email. She learned the song from a 1964 field recording of Watson and fiddler player Gaither Carlton, she says.
Washburn also found the outcropping where Mason Jar Music filmed her singing with Fleck. The pair spent much of last summer in Cannon Beach. While driving back from a tour date in northern California, Washburn pulled off the road and spied a path leading off into the brush. “I followed the trail through the brush and it broke through to one of the most glorious spots I will ever be,” she says.
Getting to the promontory to film was its own challenge, says Fleck, whose documentary “How to Write a Banjo Concerto” shows Nov. 20 at IFC Center in New York as part of the DOC NYC film festival. “We had to crawl a long way through briar patches, and down steep, treacherous slopes, all the while carrying my 1937 prewar Gibson Mastertone banjo,” he says. “Where we were playing, several hundred feet above the crashing surf, seagulls would appear and seem to hang in the air next to us, barely moving at all. We only had a short time to shoot before the light would be gone. And so we played and sang, until the light was gone.”
The duo recorded the song for their first album together, “Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn,” which came out last month on Rounder. They have tour dates booked into March 2015; see their itinerary here.