Indie rock icon and singer-songwriter/producer Richard Barone, frontman for the influential Hoboken-based band The Bongos in the ‘80s, invites us into his living room, with a backdrop of his crammed bookshelf and window that overlooks the West Village, to sing the title song from his stunning 1993 album Clouds Over Eden. Co-written by George Usher, the song reminds us that we are all connected during traumatic events.
The sentiment of connection resonates during these troubled days when the pandemic takes the lives of so many friends, family members and neighbors. We struggle to look after each other in big and small ways — making sure we have groceries and money to pay the bills — and some of us sacrifice our health
to maintain and develop our public health system. The drive to flatten the curve is the job of all of us, as we are interconnected; this understanding of mutuality makes “Clouds Over Eden” relevant to today’s circumstances.
Barone said he chose to perform this song now “as it was written in the midst of another troubled time, in the middle of the AIDS crisis. Although some things about then and now may be different, the realization that we are all responsible for each other’s well-being is the same.”
His voice is soothing, emotive and beautiful, creating a somber lullaby with a dream-like quality for his story of grief. This song is gorgeous and the melody reminds me of the best of the Beatles.
I can’t turn away
I look and all I ever find
Are pieces of a puzzle
And no one seems to mind
Clouds over Eden
And waiting for the rain
With so much to be lost
And nothing much to gain
Always busy with multiple creative endeavors, Barone has been posting a range of songs during the pandemic, including Brian Eno’s “Needles in the Camel’s Eye,” The Bongos’ “Brave New World” and “Within These Walls,” another song that Barone and Usher co-wrote for the Clouds Over Eden album.
Barone’s most recent album, Sorrows & Promises: Greenwich Village in the 1960s, is a tribute to the music of the neighborhood where he now lives. The musical director of many shows in the tri-state area, he has created memorable gatherings of singer-songwriters for his show, “Music + Revolution: Greenwich Village in the 1960s,” at various venues including Central Park SummerStage and Joe’s Pub.
Barone will perform with The Bongos at Outpost in the Burbs in Montclair on September 11. For information, visit outpostintheburbs.org.
In addition to his albums with the Bongos, he has produced many studio recordings and collaborated with a gallery of talented artists, including the late Lou Reed, Alejandro Escovedo, Pete Seeger, John Sebastian, Tony Visconti and Donovan.
Barone teaches a course titled “Music + Revolution” at the New School in New York, exposing students to the music surrounding their school and the significant history expressed by musicians active in Greenwich Village in the ’60s.
His song “Clouds Over Eden” galvanizes us to embrace the message that we are in this economic and health catastrophe together and we need to work cooperatively to combat coronavirus. Barone’s songs — not only this one, but all the music he shares — give us a powerful tool to break isolation.
Barone asks that fans support the MusiCares Covid-19 Relief Fund for Musicians at grammy.com/musicares/donations. If you want to hear the original studio version of “Clouds Over Eden” you can find it on Apple Music, Spotify and other digital outlets. For more on Barone, visit richardbarone.com.
NJArts.net’s Songs to See Us Through series is designed to spotlight songs relevant to the coronavirus crisis and encourage readers to support the artists who made them (and won’t be able to generate income via concerts at this time). Click here for links to all songs in the series.
We encourage artists to email us submissions (newly recorded, if possible) at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include links to sites such as Patreon and Venmo. Readers can also make suggestions via that email address.
Also, here is the original studio version of the song:
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