Sunday, 20 June 2010

Sunday Morning Coffee with Iris Dement

This show almost didn’t appear: all week I’ve been chasing my tail ….. unsuccessfully.  I’ve known for 5 days that I would feature Iris but I couldn’t get going.  This had nothing to do with the music but was all about me.

I know for many of you Iris may seem a strange choice because she can’t be categorised as a great.  I realised that I have been setting a trap for myself.  This show was meant to highlight music that I like but over time I have moved towards “doing” stars, greats, whose music I like.  Lots of music I love would be excluded by this unintentional criterion and so, just in time, I have seen the error of my ways.

After this preamble, welcome to this week’s show.  Grab a coffee, or a tea if you must, sit down, relax and let the music envelop you.

Let’s start with some music and then I’ll talk to you about Iris.



Surprisingly I start with Iris not leading but accompanying another singer.  Why?  This is a lovely song written by Iris.

You’ve Done Nothing Wrong  

                                              Jacqui Abbott with Iris Dement

Those who listened to Saturday’s Morning Music may recognise Jacqui who was , for 7 years, a vocalist with The Beautiful South.

What a great song!  Thanks, Iris.

What a fabulous voice! Thanks, Jacqui.

Did you notice Jacqui glancing down to read the words?  According to a commenter she only saw the words 30 mins before the show!


Iris was born in 1961  - a mere youngster she is – her mother’s eighth child and her father’s fourteenth!

Wikipedia describes her thus:

“DeMent's songs are typically simple, clearly told stories about life's pains and joys.”

Possibly but they are very worthy and worthwhile songs.


Sweet is the Melody

This video is from an stv programme but I’m not sure if that stands for Scottish Television or Slug Television.

Sweet is the voice we hear, O Iris!


I first heard of Iris through the BBC programmes, Transatlantic Sessions, and when I featured John Prine in the first show of 2010 show I included a duet with Iris - In Spite of Ourselves.

Today John returns the favour.

Let’s Invite Them Over                              with John Prine

A lovely silly song.


What happens when we die? Iris say’s that she will

Let the Mystery Be

Some must know but for others there is no need but we don’t need to get into a heavyweight discussion.  The song is the song is lovely.


We move into the second half with a political song: a great song.

Wasteland of the Free

The video is unwatchable for the first 30 secs or so, the camera movement settles until after 1min it’s OK.

“We kill for oil, then we throw a party when we win
Some guy refuses to fight, and we call that the sin
but he's standing up for what he believes in
and that seems pretty damned American to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free”


One commenter says of our next song,

“….. just because someone claims to be Christian, that of itself does not make them a Christian. I do love the truth in this song!”

If you’re not put off by this then enjoy.

I hope you had as big a laugh as I did.


Only two more songs to go in a show of lower virtuosity than some but a happy and enjoyable time  … for me, at least.

Here we have Iris writing about music at home in her early life.

Mama’s Opry 


We finish up this week with my favourite.

Our Town

A lovely song with which to end and great accompaniment.


There has been a very different tone about the show this week: I haven’t been in raptures but that’s no bad thing.  Music can touch and move without being “of a mega-star”.  Iris’ music has touched and moved me and I can ask no more than this.

Well, that’s it for another week.  I hope you enjoyed your coffee and the music.   Tune in again next week and thanks for listening.


  1. Iris Dement is superb. Wasteland of the Free is one of the angriest songs ever written

    Have a look out for her duet with John Prine In spite of ourselves - Hilarious!

  2. Jams, I wasn't sure how this show would be taken. I'm glad you liked it and Iris.

    Re "In Spite of Ourselves" way back I posted the video and you said,

    Ah I love In spite of ourselves.. I love the immortal line "Caught him once he was sniffing my undies"

    Do you have a thing about ties and undies? :)

  3. “….. just because someone claims to be Christian, that of itself does not make them a Christian. I do love the truth in this song!”

    Where do you find them, Calum? [Actually, I did read how you found her.]

    Yes, it's this sort of simplicity which is most appealing. I've been looking at another artist where simplicity was the whole key and it is most appealing.

  4. James,


    I don't find new (to me) blogs because I don't look and read whereas I love music now, I listen to lots of music - esp on Youtube. The more I listen, the more I hear, the more artists I find and the more I love music. A virtuous circle!

    JD is also a source of new artists.

    Take, for example, Jacqueline Abbott / The Beautiful South who was in yesterday morning's music.

    I found Iris Dement through Transatlantic Sessions and through Iris Dement I found Jacquie.

  5. great choice Calum
    "Wasteland Of The Free" is first class.
    I think she is on tour here next month.