I think we’ve talked about this before, but that’s such a good song. I think you can tell it’s a good song because it stretches to fit the singer.
It’s like when Dr. J and I went to hear Gillian Welch and David Rawlings did the cutest, more-forelorn version of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” That’s a good song, but hearing it completely transformed like that brings into focus that it’s a Good Song.
And isn’t that the thing about a Willie Dixon song or a Robert Johnson song? They can stand a little transformation.
So, “Would You Lay With Me (in a Field of Stone).” When Tanya Tucker did it, you could understand why people thought it was scandalous. It seemed like she was asking “Will you be willing to make these big sacrifices for me since I am about to be willing to make this big sacrifice for you (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)?”
But to hear the songwriter, David Allan Coe, do it, it sounds more like a man who loves a hard life asking if his woman is up for tending to him through the shit he does to himself and, sometimes, to her.
Adn then you have Johnny Cash’s version if it, in which it’s hard not to hear the “field of stone” as representing a cemetery and a man asking if his woman will spend eternity with him if she can.
It’s a beautiful song and, as much fun as other Coe songs can be, in my opinion, he never came close to writing another song this perfect.
According to Wikipedia, “The theme and melody is suspiciously similar to the song ‘If I Needed You’ by Townes Van Zandt.” You music folks probably could say better than I whether there’s any merit to this claim. But, to me, considering how Good Van Zandt’s songs are, it feels like it might be true–that a song of his might be good enough to have a strange life as two different songs.