Famous Blue Raincoat – THE HANDSOME FAMILY

Husband-and-wife duo Brett Sparks (vocals, guitar, keyboards) and Rennie Sparks (bass, banjo, vocals) formed the band in 1993, along with drummer Mike Werner. The band would later revolve around Rennie, who writes the lyrics, and Brett, who writes the music. Guest musicians complete the band line-up for recordings and live work.

Regarding the band name, Brett said in an interview: “It’s just kind of a stupid name. We used to have this really obnoxious drummer, and he used to call me ‘Handsome’, that was his nickname for me, I think for sarcastic reasons… And he wanted to call it the Handsome Family… and we thought it was funny, too. We thought it was a good name.”

Brett is originally from Odessa, Texas and Rennie from Long Island. The band toured extensively throughout both America and Europe in support of early releases Odessa (1994) and Milk and Scissors (1996). During that time, Brett suffered an emotional breakdown, resulting in his hospitalization and diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

They wrote their third full-length album, Through the Trees, in the aftermath of these events, and included a song inspired by Brett’s experiences in the psychiatric unit. They recorded the album in 1998, using Jeff Tweedy’s mobile studio, and brought the band to a wider audience. UNCUT named it the “Best New Country Album of the Year”.

A growing following and raised profile allowed Brett and Rennie to give up their day jobs and work on the band full-time. They toured America and Europe again in support of the 2000 album In the Air. That year, Rennie’s book of short stories, Evil, was released by Chicago publisher Black Hole Press. In 2001, they moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and released Twilight, with Allmusic opining that the album leads “the listener down a lovely yet dark trail few would dare tread twice”. In 2002, they released a live album, Live at Schuba’s Tavern, a recording from the In the Air tour from Chicago in December 2000.

The duo appeared in the 2003 documentary Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus, as well as the soundtrack album released two years later.

They have subsequently released the albums Singing Bones (2003), Last Days of Wonder (2006), Honey Moon (2009), and Wilderness (2013) as well as the collections Smothered and Covered (2003) and Scattered (2010). Their latest album, Unseen was released in September 2016.

The track “Far from Any Road,” from the album Singing Bones, was used as the main title theme song for HBO’s 2014 crime drama True Detective by the show’s music director, T Bone Burnett. The Sydney Morning Herald included season one’s opening sequence in their list of the “Ten of the Best” title sequences on television. – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Handsome_Family

It’s four in the morning, the end of December
I’m writing you now just to see if you’re better
New York is cold, but I like where I’m living
There’s music on Clinton Street all through the evening
I hear that you’re building your little house deep in the desert
You’re living for nothing now, I hope you’re keeping some kind of record
Yes, and Jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
That night that you planned to go clear
Did you ever go clear?
Ah, the last time we saw you you looked so much older
Your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder
You’d been to the station to meet every train, and
You came home without Lili Marlene
And you treated my woman to a flake of your life
And when she came back she was nobody’s wife
Well I see you there with the rose in your teeth
One more thin gypsy thief
Well, I see Jane’s awake
She sends her regards
And what can I tell you my brother, my killer
What can I possibly say?
I guess that I miss you, I guess I forgive you
I’m glad you stood in my way
If you ever come by here, for Jane or for me
Well, your enemy is sleeping, and his woman is free
Yes, and thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes
I thought it was there for good so I never tried
And Jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
That night that you planned to go clear

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