Today, the old bluegrass song “O’Death” is probably best known for the Ralph Stanley a cappella version prominently featured in O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Stanley even sang it at the Oscars that year). But the song goes back a century or more, first recorded by Dock Boggs in 1920. That is where Mexico City rock band Peregrino first heard it, and they include a fantastic cover on their debut EP A Younger Man’s Game.
“That version, for me, is just as haunting as the Ralph Stanley version, if not more so,” singer Jairus McDonald says. “I messed around with it for a while on banjo trying to learn his version, but then I decided to make it a little bit more rock/pop-friendly in terms of structure while still maintaining the folk style. Lyrically there are quite a few verses depending on the version, but I cut it down to a simple back-and-forth with one more line from Death to sort of signify the narrator losing. I left a couple Boggs pronunciations in there as a cheeky little tip of the hat to him.”
Listen to Peregrino’s great cover of “O’Death” exclusively below.
Check out more Peregrino at their website. Their debut EP ‘A Younger Man’s Game’ comes out this Friday.