Nathaniel Rateliff has unveiled the first in a series of 7-inch vinyl releases on Stax Records called “The Marigold Singles.” Featuring the songs of John Prine, the first release, out today, is “Sam Stone,” which spotlights the two artists trading lead vocals on Prine’s iconic tale of post-war addiction from his self-titled 1971 debut album.
Prine takes the first verse of the melancholic ballad and Rateliff offers harmony on the chorus, which includes the harrowing line, “There’s a hole in Daddy’s arm where all the money goes, and Jesus Christ died for nothin’, I suppose.” Rateliff then takes the downcast second verse detailing the lead character’s descent into stealing in order to fund his “$100 habit.”
The vinyl single also features Rateliff and Courtney Marie Andrews performing a gentle, acoustic rendition of “Summer’s End,” the pleading track from Prine’s The Tree of Forgiveness, which is nominated for Best Americana Album at the upcoming Grammy Awards. “Summer’s End” and “Knocking on Your Screen Door,” both co-written with Pat McLaughlin, have also received nods in the Best Americana Roots Song category.
Proceeds from this and future “Marigold Singles” releases will raise funds for Rateliff’s foundation, the Marigold Project, which supports community and nonprofit organizations working on economic and social justice. The Sierra Club Military Outdoors and Harm Reduction Coalition is the beneficiary of this first releaes. In addition to the limited-edition vinyl 45, the tracks are available on all digital platforms.
According to a release, future installments of “The Marigold Singles” will find Rateliff working with other noteworthy musicians and collaborators, with beneficiaries chosen by the artists’ common beliefs and the subject matter of those songs.