To this day I can’t recall why I picked up PJ Harvey‘s To Bring You My Love album… it might have been because the cover looked so cool, or perhaps it was because Flood produced it. It must have been because of Flood, because I was a huge fan of his coming off of U2‘s Achtung Baby record. I probably figured that this PJ Harvey has GOT to be good because now Flood could afford to work with artists that he WANTS to work with.
At the time, I had no idea what kind of music PJ Harvey sang… all I knew was that I had heard of her before.
Turns out that I chose wisely because To Bring You My Love impressed the bazonkers out of me, and I became a PJ Harvey fan for life.
“Down by the Water” was the first single off To Bring You My Love and it climbed all the way to #2 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart. The single gave Harvey a nomination for the Best Female Vocal Performance Grammy, but I believe she lost to Sheryl Crow‘s “All I Wanna Do.”
I was freaked out the first time I heard “Down by the Water,” mainly because of the whisper-voiced ending. I don’t know why recorded whispers give me the chills… maybe the same reason why clowns scared the bejeesuz out of me: because of Steven Spielberg. Remember that clown from Poltergeist? Well, now imagine that that clown is a whisper. Pre-e-e-e-e-ty freaky, huh?
Anyhow, “Down by the Water” is freaky for another reason, though – it’s about a woman drowning her daughter. At least that’s my take on it. I think the song’s about a mother who discovers something awful about her daughter… she can’t handle it and eventually drowns the daughter. In the end, the mother is undoubtedly tortured by her deed and begs for her daughter’s return, only to realize she’s just playing a piano to a cow (cow doesn’t give a flying rat’s ass about the piano playing, no matter how beautiful it may be).
The video for “Down by the Water” recreates the feeling of the album cover for To Bring You My Love. PJ Harvey is dressed in red, and she appears to be drowning in green water for most of it… I don’t recall being too thrilled about this video when it first came out because I thought it was pretty boring, but I guess everyone else felt differently because of how popular it became. That’s why I’m not a music video producer. If I were a music video producer, I’d call myself “Dijon.”
Here’s the video:
This acoustic version of “Down by the Water” features Harvey on an autoharp and even though there are drums and a synth pad in the background, it’s actually a solo performance. She doesn’t whisper the end lines in this version, but I love the way she pronounces “water” and “daughter.” European accents are cool.
If you don’t have To Bring You My Love in your music collection, I would highly recommend checking it out. It is one of my best “blind-finds” and remains a unique listening experience for me whenever I spin it.
Your Dig-It Downloads: