PJ Harvey - To Bring You My LoveTo 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.”

PJ Harvey - To Bring You My LoveI 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:

Download: Down by the Water (original version)
Download: Down by the Water (live studio acoustic performance)

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8 thoughts on “PJ Harvey: Down by the Water

  1. Lost to “All I Wanna Do”??? That's a shame. “All I Wanna Do” is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. Like tongue on a popsicle stick. Can't. Stand. It.

    “Down By The Water”, though, I LOVE. I remember exactly why I bought that CD – and when. I heard “Down by the Water” somewhere (possibly on the *gasp* radio) and dragged my college roommate to the record store with me to find it. I didn't know who sang it or what it was called – just that it said “little fish, big fish swimming in the water, come back here and give me my daughter”… I repeated that to the wonderful, all-knowing record store employee, and just like that, the CD was in my hands. Then someone went and stole it from me, and I never did replace it. I loved that thing, dammit.

    Very cool acoustic version, Dijon! Thanks for posting it… and for the trip down memory lane! 🙂

  2. wow. I am HATING that video. Self-indulgent soulless pseudo-artistic work that does nothing for the song (but the director is really hoping will pad his award resume). Feels like the only time I ever walked into the Whitney Museum in NY. After 20 minutes of seeing artistic balls suspended on artistic dental floss and metallic limbs balanced on a toothpick, I walked out. Couldn't stand it.
    But the song is ok.
    Oh, and clowns creep me out. Though I played one on TV once.

  3. Dude… someone stole it from you. That's SO uncool. My roommates stole U2's Unforgettable Fire from me… so I swiped their Scoundrel Days (A-Ha). Eye for an eye.

    I love Sheryl Crow's writing, but I tend to agree with some people who wonder why she doesn't sound like she's trying very hard when she sings.

  4. Metallic limbs balanced on a toothpick? That's pretty cool… unless it's uninteresting metallic limbs on a boring toothpick… then that would not be pretty cool.

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