It was over a decade into her life as a touring singer/songwriter and over a year since she turned her back on her dreams of a musical career, presumably, for good, when Bonnie Bishop received a call from none other than Dave Cobb. The Grammy-winning producer wanted to record her: would she accept?
Though jaded and ready to head down another road, away from her first dream, Bishop sensed that it was a call from fate and accepted Cobb’s invitation, heading into the studio armed with songs from her former life on the road. What emerged from their dynamic collaboration was Bishop’s sixth album, Ain’t Who I Was, which came out last May on Thirty Tigers/RED.
Today, Elmore is sharing a live video recording of “Poor Man’s Melody,” a track from the recent release with an intimate inspiration for Bishop. She shares, “The song “Poor Man’s Melody” came to me after I had to decide between keeping my apartment on Music Row in Nashville or keeping my van. I couldn’t afford both wheels and a roof over my head at the time. (Yes, I was that poor.) I needed to pay off my loan. So, I sold my van to songwriter Ben Elkins of the band El El who needed a 15 passenger van for his band and their trip to SXSW, and then wrote the song!”
The painful intimacy and heartache of that decision permeates the track to its core. “I’ve got nowhere left to hide, this world has stripped me of my pride,” Bishop sings with her husky, sensual pipes.
Filmed at Atlanta’s Park Tavern as part of their Americana In The Park series, Bishop throws her whole body into the passion of the performance. Though her four instrumentalists provide a solid foundation, receding and swelling with the flow of the track, they remain in the background, letting her shine. As the track crescendos, it takes on a soulful, gospel bent, Bishop aching for clarity and redemption as she sings, “let the waters wash me clean.”
Connect with Bishop on her Facebook and website, where you can find episodes of her web-based audio series called “Story & Song,” which marries her creative writing with heartfelt songs of redemption and healing. Watch her live performance of “Poor Man’s Melody” below.