Medicine Singers, Lee Ranaldo Get Members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Zoon for "Honor Song"

The track arrives in commemoration of Indigenous Peoples' Day

Photo: Tim Bugbee

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Oct 9, 2023

Happy Indigenous Peoples' Day! Medicine Singers — the musical collective initiated by Eastern Medicine Singers and guitarist Yonatan Gat — are marking the occasion with the release of "Honor Song," a collaboration with Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo that also features members of Godspeed You! Black EmperorZoon and more.

The track arrives today via Stone Tapes and Joyful Noise Recordings, alongside a KEXP live session the band recorded back in July. "Honor Song" sees GY!BE drummer Timothy Herzog join Swans' Thor Harris on drums, while Zoon's Daniel Monkman made their first appearance with the collective on backing vocals. It was produced by Howard Bilerman at Montreal's Hotel2Tango.

A dedication to loved ones who have passed on — namely Arthur Red Medicine Crippen's partner Kathleen, whom he lovingly refers to as Ms. Kat, as well as cherished Medicine Singers collaborator and jazz musician jaimie branch — it was recorded two weeks after branch's death. She had been scheduled to appear on the record.

"'Honor Song' was given to me by my uncle Wayne Red Dawn Crippen. When my wife Ms. Kat wasn't feeling well I used to sing it to her when she was in the hospital every night," Arthur Red Medicine Crippen explained in a statement. "I didn't know how sick Ms. Kat really was, until I came home and she passed away in August. This song lingers because we lost her since we recorded it. When I sing this song I think of her the whole time. It's a part of my prayer, I end each day singing this song and I know she's listening. 'Honor Song' is a travel song, when people leave this world they travel to another dimension, and songs like this reach them."

Ranaldo added, "Joining the Medicine Singers, both in the recording studio and live on stage, has been a highlight of the last couple years for me. Breaking boundaries and stressing the shared similarities between Indigenous music and more modern styles has been a profound, expansive experience. Recording sessions with Native Americans, Canadian First Nations and local Brazilian players, along with an amazing crew of sympathetic collaborators, has, I think, opened up new avenues and ideas for us all."

Listen to the stirring "Honor Song" below, where you can also check out the band's KEXP live session.


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