Brilliant Songs #43: Damien Jurado’s “Silver Joy”

Sometimes I find myself wishing there were fewer supremely talented musicians and other artists plying their trade across the world so I could better keep up without feeling badly about missing out on as much as I do. Yes, I’m aware of the highly dubious logic of that statement, so I’ll drop it right now.

Instead, I’ll share yet one more jewel by a singer-songwriter there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of—unless you’ve been hanging around the Seattle club scene the past quarter-century or so. Or were doubly fortunate as I was this week in viewing the splendid and unlikely intergenerational road-buddy movie with a holiday backdrop, Alexander Payne’s  “The Holdovers,”

There, amidst a carefully curated soundtrack that ranges across multiple genres to support its 1970 setting, looms the beautiful and tender “Silver Joy,” from Seattle-based acoustic guitarist Damien Jurado.

Jurado, now 52, launched his career in the mid-1990s, selling self-produced cassettes out of his car and wherever he could find a gig. Following a well-trod path of those with both talent and inordinate tenacity, he eventually gained enough of a following to attract indie record companies who honored both his passion for music-making and the fierce independence he sought in following his artistic muse.

The result has been a prolific output of 21 albums, the most recent on his own newly created Mariqopa Records label. Those have been accompanied by a bushel of extended play (EP) mini-albums and singles with a variety of collaborators and labels over the years.

And, since there is just no avoiding it, long stints on the road that he both dreads and tends to as part of his tribute and thanks to fans who have sustained him over the years.



“Silver Joy” is from Jurado’s 2014 album,“Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Sun,” which he described at the time as “about a guy who disappears on a search, if you will, for himself—and never goes home.”

Much as that may describe the life trajectory of most musicians, I suppose we should be thankful, in this season of thanks, that unlike his character, Jurado did find his way home to make a song that perfectly matches its music to the sublime calm and quiet satisfactions its lyrics suggest from first words (“Let me sleep”) to last (“Eternity begins”).

In between, his voice soothes like the softest glints of dawn’s “silver joy” as the unhurried world gives way to morning.

Now, it’s not altogether clear where he’s directing his sleep-eyed intonations. To a partner beside him? To the dawn itself as he perhaps lolls about in the luxury of a first morning back from a road trip, blessedly alone? Or is it simply to the dreamy “eternity” that underlies all such timeless moments of peace and satisfaction, in whatever way they are experienced?

Let’s catch our own glints of that satisfaction now before returning for some closing remarks and a bonus song selection that helps elevate “The Holdovers” soundtrack to an artistic level far more evocative and memorable than most such endeavors usually turn out to be.



                  SILVER JOY

Let me sleep
In the slumber of the morning
There’s nowhere I need to be
And my dreams are still all calling

Lay your troubles on the ground
No need to worry about them now
Daylight shaking through the trees
Do not disturb me, let me be

And if you need a place to land
Or come down when you are weary
No more clouds to put away
In the slumber of the morning

Keep me with you on the ground
All of my worries behind me now
Daylight shaking through the trees
Do not disturb me, let me be

Let me sleep
In the slumber of tomorrow
There’s nowhere we need to be
That will not be there after

Keep me with you on the ground
All of our worries behind us now
And be sure to wake me when


It’s probably worth noting that in the live performance above, the second line in the final stanza reads, “All of our worries behind us now,” suggesting a partner-in-worry. In the earlier, more refined studio version that is on the soundtrack and available on You Tube, the worries are his alone:
“…my worries behind me now.”

Jurado had been long married, divorced and remarried by the time he wrote “Silver Joy,” though, so the change may just reflect the kind of thing singers often do on stage in tinkering with lyrics to keep themselves engaged with old material. (Bob Dylan-watchers have created an entire music discipline out of noting such lyric play.)

Far more noteworthy is the direct, simple-but-not-simplistic eloquence of the lyrics and their restrained delivery. And then there’s the delicate guitar-picking, Jurado employing his thumb to keep a low hypnotic rhythm that evokes the same dreamy, semi-slumber the words are calling us to.

“Ground,” “land” and “ground” end the first lines of the second through fourth stanzas, a call to the goodness of terra firma as our narrator awakens and observes “daylight shaking through the trees.” Nothing pressing, no one calling, nowhere to be, no “clouds to put away”—they will drift quite nicely on their own, thank you…

For now, the ground beneath us will more than suffice.

And then this eternal verity that has surely struck everyone who has ever gotten their knickers in a twist over some perceived failing or disappointment, only to someday (we must hope) come to realize: “There’s nowhere we need to be/That will not be there after.”

A hallmark of wisdom, is that realization, landing one right on the doorstep where “Eternity….begins.”


Meanwhile, here’s another song “The Holdovers” plucked from the 1970s vaults and had me thinking for a while about making this into a “Two Brilliant Songs” post, before deciding it would surely confuse me, if not my esteemed readers/listeners. Labi Siffre, now 78, scored a hit with it at No. 11 on his native Britain’s pop charts in 1972, but until I looked into it, I had assumed he is one of countless soulful indie artists laboring in the cafes of contemporary Tulsa or Ann Arbor. Enjoy!


See here for an interesting 2020 conversation with Jurado in a smart music periodical with the intriguing name, “The Aquarian Drunkard.” (I don’t know; you’ll have to ask them!)

Comments? Questions? Suggestions, Objections, Attaboys? Just scroll on down to the Comments section below. No minimum or maximum word counts!

Check out this blog’s public page on Facebook for 1-minute snippets of wisdom and other musings from the world’s great thinkers and artists, accompanied by lovely photography.

Deep appreciation to the photographers! Unless otherwise stated, some rights reserved under Creative Commons licensing.

Elizabeth Haslam, whose photos (except for the books) grace the rotating banner at top of page.

Library books photo by Larry Rose, all rights reserved, contact:

Man beholding dome: from the album cover to “Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Sun”

Jurado in concert by Jon Jordan, United Kingdom

4 comments to Brilliant Songs #43: Damien Jurado’s “Silver Joy”

  • Jay Helman  says:

    Jurado’s Silver Joy sets the perfect tone in the touching film, The Holdovers (a must see, in my view). The lyric “keep me with you on the ground” as we leave worries behind strikes me as an important counter to those who believe that worries are left behind only by offering them to an ethereal, celestial force. I’m particularly drawn to his reference of remaining aground and leaving worries behind. This is a kind of be-here-now approach often lost when looking for some kind of mystical/magic to allay worry and fear. Jurado’s gentle voice and light touch on his guitar strings are soothing and, in themselves, go toward alleviating anxiety and worry.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Really glad you raised this point, Jay. I think it’s what I was groping for with my reference to terra firma and the ground below us “sufficing,” but your elaboration of that point, tying it into the whole notion of groundedness in contrast to hoping/expecting ethereal, magical forces to ease our suffering, brings the idea home in a way that I didn’t. This is but one reason I appreciate comment sections, whether here or on other sites; at their best, they serve as a kind of “crowd sourcing” to help round out, elaborate and enhance the original material—two and 10 and 100 minds most always better than one. So: thanks!

  • Jay Helman  says:

    Well, my dear, lifelong friend (and often unbeknownst-to-you, mentor.) it is a truly breathtaking compliment from you that I may have “brought something home in a way ” that you did not. But, to the point. I have long marveled at those who cling to (depend on?) modes of thought and being that turn to the mystical and overlook what is often the very essence of the teaching to stay grounded, focused, have faith, be resilient, and as Ram Dass famously proclaimed, “Be Here Now.” Yes, it’s all easy enough to say, but staying grounded and resilient, faithful and positive is in the doing, and is rarely easy.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      The impact of lifelong friendship definitely works both ways, pal. Hard to imagine (or even remember) what life was like before you were in it, but I’m glad I didn’t have to live it! And again, retaining that focus on the good solid earth that so kindly makes itself available to us is a point to return to again and again, and I’m glad you picked up on it as strongly as you did with this song; it helped make a great little lyrical snippet all the more powerful and memorable.

Leave a Reply