John Munson covers Nick Drake's "Way to Blue"

The memorial service for Daniel Levy, son of Honeydogs' frontman Adam Levy, was an extremely emotional affair last month. It brought together a couple hundred family, friends, musicians, and others to remember the 21-year-old young man who took his life after years of dealing with a mind that he couldn't harness. More of that story, and how it fed the creation of the band's new album, What Comes After, figures into this week's cover feature, available online here.

Fitting that Semisonic's John Munson was asked to perform a classic song by Nick Drake. The British folk singer was only 26 when he passed away after an overdose of an antidepressant. "Nick Drake was a tortured soul, and so was Daniel," Munson tells Gimme Noise on a call from his home in between recording bass parts for a new album for his longtime collaborator Dan Wilson.

Munson's version of "Way to Blue," from Drake's 1969 album Five Leaves Left, is delivered with just piano, and it encapsulates the emotional aspect of the memorial. "My goal was to deliver the song in a way that I thought Daniel would want to hear it," Munson says. He does more than that, though. A deceivingly simple melody and open-ended lyrics turned into an interpretive meditation on the relationships that were gathered in the History Theatre that afternoon.

Note: This was recorded by Gimme Noise, and used with gracious permission from Levy and Munson.


Don't you have a word to show what may be done
Have you never heard a way to find the sun
Tell me all that you may know
Show me what you have to show
Won't you come and say
If you know the way to blue

Have you seen the land living by the breeze
Can you understand a light among the trees
Tell me all that you may know
Show me what you have to show
Tell us all today
If you know the way to blue?

Look through time and find your rhyme
Tell us what you find
We will wait
At your gate
Hoping like the blind

Can you now recall all that you have known
Will you never fall
When the light has flown
Tell me all that you may know
Show me what you have to show
Won't you come and say
If you know the way to blue?

Read more:
Honeydogs frontman Adam Levy's son Daniel remembered in skateboarding video
Honeydogs frontman Adam Levy reveals the heartbreak of son's suicide

The Honeydogs play an album-release show for What Comes After with Rogue Valley and Farewell Milwaukee. 18+, $10-$13 ($1 from each ticket goes to Four Winds Hospital), 6 p.m. Saturday, March 10, at First Avenue; 612.332.1775.

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