Song of the Day #1,999: ‘Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song)’ – Oscar Isaac

inside_llewyn_davisBeyoncé aside, I did a pretty good job of avoiding any late-year surprises in the music world. But just last week I had one of my most sublime musical experiences of the year in a movie theater.

Recently I was asked, during a business meeting of all things, for the name of my favorite filmmaker. That’s the kind of question a guy like me needs a week and a series of spreadsheets to answer, but that wasn’t an option. I had to go with my gut, and my gut said “The Coen Brothers.”

I suspect a week and a series of spreadsheets would have arrived at the same conclusion.

The Coens have been among my very favorites since I saw their first few films in the late 80s and early 90s. But their work has gone deeper and broader since, without ever losing its essential Coen-ness.

Inside Llewyn Davis is the Coens’ 16th feature film (counting only those movies the brothers directed as opposed to those they’ve written for others) and it ranks among their very best.

An old saying suggests that history is written by the winners, and presumably about the winners as well. The Coen Brothers write about the losers. They are often accused of punishing their characters, but the way I see it, they aren’t doling out punishment, just documenting the sad work of an indifferent universe.

Llewyn Davis is a struggling folk singer trying to make a living in Greenwich Village in the early 60s, before Dylan emerged on the scene and changed everything. Dylan’s story — a triumphant one — has been told a thousand times. The Coens are more interested in telling the story of the guy who left the stage before Dylan took it.

That’s a lovely mission, and Inside Llewyn Davis is a lovely, deeply melancholy film. Beautiful to look at and somber to its core, it still has the quick wit and twisted perspective of all Coen Brothers movies. And it has sublime, showstopping musical moments throughout (making it a cousin to the Coens’ O Brother Where Art Thou?).

Among my favorite musical performances is today’s SOTD, performed by the amazing lead actor, Oscar Issac. This is one of three performances of ‘Dink’s Song’ in the film, each one poignant and meaningful in its own way. I won’t give anything away about when or where this song is performed, but it’s a beauty.

If I had wings like Noah’s dove
I’d fly the river to the one that I love
Fare three well, oh honey, fare thee well

The one I love is long and tall
She moves her body like a cannon ball
Fare thee well, oh honey, fare thee well

Early one morning, drizzling rain
And in my heart I felt an aching pain
Fare thee well, oh honey, fare thee well

Now one of these mornings, it won’t be long
You’ll call my name and I’ll be gone
Fare thee well, oh honey, fare thee well

If I had wings like Noah’s dove
I’d fly up the river to the one I love
Fare three well, oh honey, fare three well

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6 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,999: ‘Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song)’ – Oscar Isaac

  1. Dana says:

    Wonderful song. So looking forward to seeing this movie.

  2. pegclifton says:

    Wonderful commentary, wonderful song; I can’t wait to see the movie either.

  3. Amy says:

    I’d say this is (or should be) the song to beat for the Oscar. I, too, would likely answer the Coen brothers if posed that question on the spot. This film reminded me of A Serious Man, and I like your analysis that these filmmakers want to tell the stories of the losers, though I find that a more negative label than I would ever want to give Llewyn or any of his kindred spirits who have captured the Coens’ attention. There is nothing about this man that makes him a loser other than his luck. So perhaps what they are exploring is why and how fate favors some over others.
    Regardless, I love their films, and this is one of their best films yet.

  4. Clay says:

    You’re right… I don’t mean “loser” in the pejorative sense but simply to mean one who doesn’t succeed. Of course, Llewyn is often the architect of his own bad luck.

    This song is an old folk classic, so it won’t be eligible for an Oscar. I’d love for them to work it into the ceremony somehow, though. Oscar Isaac (a Kendall product!) deserves all the exposure he can get.

    • Amy says:

      Really? Were any of the songs original? I wondered especially after he made the comment about the song sounding familiar, as all folk songs do :)

  5. Clay says:

    The only semi-original song is ‘Please Mr. Kennedy,’ but even that is based on an existing song from the era so it isn’t eligible either. It was included in the Golden Globes, though.

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