Often, it is somebody else’s interpretation of a Tom Waits song that reveals the lyrical and melodic side of his artistry. Waits has written many beautiful songs, but you have to peel back the layers of everything else that makes him interesting to find that inner core. Tom Waits’ recording of “Dirt in the Ground,” from Bone Machine, is slow, funereal march with somber horns in the background. The mood is clear, but the lyrics take close listening to decipher.
Jameson Burt records and performs simply as Jameson. His EP, Pronto, with each track just voice backed by either guitar or banjo, brings to mind Chris Whitley. Jameson’s video of “Dirt in the Ground,” is equally straightforward. Appropriately filmed overlooking a cemetery, a sharp-dressed Jameson sits with his guitar in a glass-walled, modernist sun room. The physical separation from the burial ground seems to disconnect us from the reality of the lyrics, but if you close your eyes, Jameson’s slow build to a controlled wail drives the point home. Watch and listen below.