"Song For June" released off Special Edition Reflectere
Updated: Apr 9, 2020
It's a bittersweet coincidence that this song's release today comes right on the heels of the loss of John Prine last night (April 7th).
The reason it's bittersweet coincidence, is that this song was written on the day of the passing of another music legend, June Carter Cash.
I first heard this song on an album called Unsung by Slaid Cleaves (2006). I purchased that album at Music Millenium in Portland, Oregon in the the summer of 2007. The intent of Unsung is similar to that of Reflectere, in that Slaid Cleaves covers songs by some of his favorite lesser known songwriters. The last track on that album was "Song For June" by JJ Baron, and it just floored me when I first heard it. I immediately scoured the liner notes to see what I could find out about the song, and the note that Cleaves had written was that the song by Baron, (who was 24 or 25 years old at the time of writing the tune), had "an old soul and a bright future", and had written the song on the day June Carter passed.
Baron still has a somewhat elusive online presence (or at least unconventional from current standards of saturating social media), but he's written some other great tunes, and is well worth the effort seeking out and enjoying.
I set out to learn this song from playing along with the Unsung CD in the winter of 2008. That memory itself is a pleasant one, as it was at a remote hotel near Cedarville, California. (Cedarville is in the Surprise Valley in extreme NE California--just a few miles from both the Oregon & Nevada borders). The hotel was a ranch style motor-lodge built on the playa of an ephemeral alkaline lake at the northern end of the Surprise Valley. Each room had a little tub out back where the natural hot springs from the ancient lake were piped in. The region is visually stunning (in the rain-shadow of the Warner Mountains), and was one one of the many alternate routes that folks passed through on the Oregon/ Applegate/Lassen Emigrant Trails back in the mid nineteenth century. While my then girlfriend (now wife) was enjoying the springs, I was in our little room playing this song over and over again trying to work out the chord changes and lyrics.
What's here on Reflectere is the end result of that work 13 years later. Hope you enjoy the song, and please give JJ Baron and Slaid Cleaves a listen if you haven't already.
[One last note for those that might not be aware of some of the deeper routes of country music. June Carter was the daughter of Ezra & Maybelle Carter of the iconic Carter Family, and wife of Johnny Cash (whom she married in 1968). The Carters were some of the first truly famous country music stars in the late 1920's and 30's. June was a huge star in her own right performing with her sisters and "Mother" Maybelle after the Carter Family broke up in 1943, and for many years after--even before she began performing with Johnny Cash in the early 60's. The opening guitar picking you'll hear on "Song For June" is one of the more recognizable country guitar riffs in the history of country music. It's from "Wildwood Flower," and was originally performed by Maybelle Carter using her unique style of guitar playing known as the "Carter Scratch." It's a great homage to both Maybelle and June (who used to play "Wildwood Flower"), and part of the reason JJ Baron's song jumped out at me so much. He bookends the song with the riff, and by doing so, makes the song that much sweeter.]
Hope you enjoy, and thanks for listening/downloading! This Sunday, April 12th, I'll be releasing the third song on Reflectere, "The Lights Of Cheyenne" by James McMurtry. More on that tune in a few days...