Gezundheit/Let the Wires Ring

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One of the scarcest of the early Palace singles, "Gezundheit" boasts most unusual origins -- the song begins by borrowing the lyrics and melody of Billy Bragg's "I Dreamed I Saw Phil Ochs Last Night," its last three verses come from a poem by Sam Walter Foss, and its finale features a snippet of a Julee Cruise recording accidentally included on the original master tape. Cut directly to four-track, "Gezundheit" is virtually indistinguishable from the vintage Appalachian field recordings that inform so much of Will Oldham's work -- arguably the most rustic and primitive song he ever recorded, his plaintive vocals crack and waver like the kinds of disembodied voices previously heard only on battered 78s. A leftover demo originally planned for There Is No-One What Will Take Care of You, "Let the Wires Ring" is equally stark and desolate, and like its flip side name-checks another rock & roll martyr -- in this case, the late, great Johnny Ace. (Both songs were later compiled on the Guarapero: Lost Blues 2 collection.)