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In the fall of 2018, Hanif Abdurraqib, the author of today’s narrated story, saw the folk duo Gillian Welch and David Rawlings perform live at an outdoor show in Virginia.
Halfway through the show they played “Hard Times” — Ms. Welch’s song about a man, his mule and his plow. A performance that has been worked into Hanif’s memory.
“It’s a patient and heartbreaking song, filtered through a vague but believable promise of something better,” he wrote. “Especially when played live, it feels like you’re nursing an open wound that is slowly stitching itself closed, inch by inch.”
For Ms. Welch and Mr. Rawlings, pandemic isolation has brought about a creative boon.
Listen to this narrated story about how, amid the uncertainties of 2020, the pair have returned to what they know: songs about the slow, challenging, beautiful heat of living.
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The Daily is made by Theo Balcomb, Andy Mills, Lisa Tobin, Rachel Quester, Lynsea Garrison, Annie Brown, Clare Toeniskoetter, Paige Cowett, Michael Simon Johnson, Brad Fisher, Larissa Anderson, Wendy Dorr, Chris Wood, Jessica Cheung, Stella Tan, Alexandra Leigh Young, Lisa Chow, Eric Krupke, Marc Georges, Luke Vander Ploeg, Kelly Prime, Julia Longoria, Sindhu Gnanasambandan, M.J. Davis Lin, Austin Mitchell, Neena Pathak, Dan Powell, Dave Shaw, Sydney Harper, Daniel Guillemette, Hans Buetow, Robert Jimison, Mike Benoist, Bianca Giaever, Liz O. Baylen, Asthaa Chaturvedi and Rachelle Bonja. Our theme music is by Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk of Wonderly. Special thanks to Sam Dolnick, Mikayla Bouchard, Lauren Jackson, Julia Simon, Mahima Chablani, Nora Keller, Sofia Milan and Desiree Ibekwe.