Country Joe McDonald

Carry On

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1994's Carry On was Country Joe McDonald's first album since 1991, but it continually harked back to his earlier work. One track, "Lady with the Lamp," a ballad sung in the voice of a soldier in the Crimean War about Florence Nightingale, was reminiscent of War, War, War, McDonald's album of musical settings for the World War I poems of Robert Service, and the recording itself was an outtake from the sessions for his previous album, Superstitious Blues, featuring two guitar tracks by Jerry Garcia. "Trilogy" was a nine-and-a-half-minute instrumental based on the Country Joe & the Fish tune "Section 43." War and death were much on McDonald's mind throughout the album, which McDonald performed in a folk style on acoustic guitar and harmonica with occasional added accompaniment. Blues and gospel also came into play, the latter especially playing into the album's elegiac tone. McDonald dedicated the album to the memory of his parents, to whom he seemed to be reaching out to on the album's final track, "My Last Song." But he was thinking about his own death, too, also dedicating the record to "my generation ... the Woodstock/Vietnam generation may we face the future and our mortality together with dignity." Despite such sentiments, the album largely avoided being maudlin, and could even be stirring despite the gloom on such anthemic songs as "Hold on to Each Other" and the title song.

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