(Cross the) Heartland: Pat Metheny, “Country Poem” (1979)

Pat Metheny has spoken many times about his “voice,” and obviously that voice comes in many flavors — from the hollow body guitar, the various acoustics, the Red One, the Pikasso, the Orchestrion. But as different as all of those voices are, it’s not like the source is hidden: we hear Pat playing any one of those instruments and we know who’s making the music.

With “Country Poem,” my ears pick up a different voice…and it sounds very close to human. I don’t know why that is, but after the initial round of arpeggios, Metheny begins to play a simple descending melody line and in my head it sounds like a person humming. This continues throughout the piece. I know that this is my perception, but it feels like a foreshadowing of Pat’s use of wordless vocals on later releases.

This song has a hopeful, searching quality to it. It serves as a great lead in (and definite contrast) to the next track: “Long Ago Child/Fallen Star.”

Up next: Long Ago Child/Fallen Star

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he writes several weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.