I was listening to A Prairie Home Companion over the weekend. One of the acts was a very compelling trio consisting of Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan. My ears perked up when I heard them say they were going to do a Jim Croce song. I figured that it wouldn’t be one of his hits. One thing that is a bit strange is that Croce’s songs have not been as widely covered as one would think. That’s probably because Croce had such an ability to make a song seem especially his (even when it he didn’t even write it). But the truth is that he was a fine songwriter, and it is always interesting to hear other people interpret his work.
In this case, the trio did, “Walkin’ Back to Georgia.” It is one of his genre tunes: trying to get back together, like “It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way.” But “Walkin'” is less sentimental than Croce often was when writing about this kind of stuff. It’s also a clever song in that he’s clearly referring to the state of Georgia, but at times, he implies that the girl’s name is Georgia as well.
The Watkins, Jarosz, and O’Donovan version of the song is just beautiful. Also, I like that they didn’t change the gender of the object of the song. You can think of this as being a lesbian love affair, but I think of it more simple than that. They are just performing the song the way it was meant. When Bob Dylan did “House of the Risin’ Sun” on his first album, he did it as a female prostitute. It’s always struck me as cowardly to do otherwise.