The first time I heard Peter Case sing "On My Way Downtown" was some years back when he'd just finished writing it. I was in the audience at a "new song" workshop featuring Peter and a few other songwriters. We've all heard of "love at first sight," well, for me this was love at first hearing. The song knocked me out then and it still does.
My version of "On My Way Downtown" was originally recorded for a stunning 3 CD tribute project called A Case For Case. A variety of great singers and songwriters (from Joe Ely, James McMurtry and Todd Snyder to Tom Russell, Chris Smither and Maura O'Connell) all contributed tracks to show their love and appreciation for Peter's unique body of work.
Let me quote what I wrote about Peter for the tribute CD's liner notes:
"For over two decades I've been blessed to know Peter Case and his music. I could ramble on with over two decades of stories and memories that would illuminate what a good guy and under-recognized talent Peter is but his songs do a better job at that than I ever could. As he and I have passed through various scenes, good times and bad, Peter has always been someone I respect as a person, as a musician, as a powerful songwriter and as a bottomless well of soulfulness. Simply put, he's one of our best."
My fellow Case fans joining me on the track are my late amigo, the always excellent Chris Gaffney, on accordion and harmony vocals; the beautiful and multi-talented Amy Farris supplying the sweet violin and viola; the Guilty Men's long board surfer, Gregory Boaz, playing the solid stand-up bass and my old pal from The Blasters, Bill Bateman, performing to his usual high standards on the drums. Besides singing the lead vocal, I'm strumming the acoustic guitars and plucking the electric baritone guitar. The consistently patient and wise Craig Parker Adams recorded the track at his Winslow Court Studio.
The Case For Case tribute set was released a couple of years ago on the Hungry For Music label and it was put together by Jeff Campbell with the proceeds going to his wonderful Hungry For Music organization that gives musical instruments to underprivileged kids. Please check out the group's website at hungryformusic.org for more information. If you want to hear Peter singing his own songs as only he can, listen to any of his records from his days with The Plimsouls through his various solo albums and, especially, to his his most recent Grammy nominated CD, the inspirational Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John on the brave and true Yep Roc label.
- Dave Alvin, Aug 21, 2008