A friend of mine bought Dark Was the Night the day it was released. She bought it at the beginning of the day and wasn’t getting home until the evening, so she had no way of listening to it for the next few hours. Random bursts of excitement about how she was going to listen to it that night, and listen to it hard, made everyone around a little intrigued. I asked her what she thought about it the next day, and she said, “There isn’t just one favorite song on it; it’s one favorite after another, after another, after another …”
Dark Was the Night, released Feb. 16 world-wide and Feb. 17 in North America, is a compilation disc with the aim to spread HIV and AIDS awareness and has proceeds from all sales going to the Red Hot Organization. Produced by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National and with John Carlin as the executive producer (founder of the Red Hot Organization), the compilation spans numerous genres. However, it has a definite continuity to it from the first of the 32 specially recorded songs to the very last. The indie all-star lineup includes this year’s Pygmalion Festival highlight Yo La Tengo as well as Bon Iver, Feist, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, Andrew Bird, My Morning Jacket and many more.
Some of the songs are originals, some are covers, but all are remarkable in their own way. My Brightest Diamond’s rendition of “Feeling Good” shoves Michael Bublé’s version clear under the table, while Spoon takes on a Violent Femmes-esque persona with the opening track of the second disc, “Well-Alright.” The album gets a little funky and more R&B-fueled with Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings in the middle of the second disc with “Inspiration Information,” and it gets a little delta blues-y with the title track, “Dark Was the Night” by Kronos Quartet (which is based off the original track, “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground,” by the notorious Blind Willie Johnson, a delta blues master of the ’20s and ’30s).
This compilation has a little bit of something for everyone and is more than worth the purchase price with the proceeds going to a good cause. In the spirit of causes and the inside cover of the compilation, get yourself a copy and remember to “play safe.”

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