Motherland (cover by J.W.C)

Cover of Natalie Merchant’s song, Motherland. Two acoustic guitar parts (one strummed, one fingerstyle), low whistle, and vocals performed by me. Created the bass line in my DAW.

WAV file on Dropbox


Well played and well sung!

1 Like

@ChasetheDream Thank you, Robert.

I first heard this song when @tony (previously “ynot”) posted a rendition on the old forums. Fell in love with it and decided to learn it.

I didn’t think of it until today, but I might look into adding some mandolin to the track at some point.

1 Like

@j.w.c Jason, you blew me away with your rendition. Top job!!!

Which DAW are you using? I’m just getting into that and curious about others set ups.

I’ve been living in Australia for over 40 years now, I grew up in Kansas and we regularly went to Texas on vacation, I remember the first time we went there and my dad came home wearing a cowboy hat. And driving our car with camping trailer in tow through the middle of Dallas central business district, before the bypass.

Once again, congratulations on a great version of Motherland

1 Like


This was new to me when Tony covered it and I can see why it inspired you to cover it. Lovely song and you did it proud. Impressive on all fronts, was that you on the flute as well. Much respect sir. :bowing_man:



1 Like

Thanks, @tony, I’m glad you liked it. And thank you, again, for introducing me to this lovely song.

The anecdote about your dad coming home with a cowboy hat is pure awesome. Driving through Dallas with a car + trailer sounds like a nightmare, though. I hate driving in the heart of the big cities. Houston is just as bad as Dallas, as far as that goes.

I’m running Bitwig Studio. On this track, the bass was created in the DAW with MIDI. Strumming guitar was my Martin OM-35, recorded using the internal pickup. The fingerpicking guitar was the same OM-35, recorded using two condenser microphones. (I was going to use my classical guitar for the fingerpicking, but I broke a string and didn’t have a replacement on hand, so I just used the Martin again.) Block flute was a Susato Low-D whistle recorded with a condenser mic. I added EQ and reverb in the DAW, and also added some compression to the vocal.

@TheMadman_tobyjenner - Thank you, Toby. Yes, that was me playing a low whistle (which is a type of block flute). It’s a Susato Kildare Low-D (from their Kildare “L-series”) – the same one I used on the Lament track.


Thanks for all the detail. Driving through Dallas was in / about 1965 so probably no where near as big as I assume it is now. Still it was much better in following years when the bypass / freeway had been built. I always say to people that Texas is one of those places you have to visit first hand to really appreciate it.

Did you learn to play the whistle after learning the guitar? I sometimes think of getting a whistle.

Yes. A couple years ago I bought a high D pennywhistle because my daughter and I were playing some Celtic folk tunes (with her on viola or violin and me on guitar). While doing that I listened to some recordings that had pennywhistle in them and decided I’d give it a shot. Now I’ve got five or six whistles of various types, as well as several recorders. That’s the way it goes… :slight_smile:

If you like the whistle you should definitely pick one (or several) up. Unlike the recorder, whistle is a diatonic instrument. That kind of ties it to a key (and related keys/modes), but it also makes them easier to pick up and play. The learning curve isn’t too steep. And while you can get expensive whistles, the less expensive instruments are fine and don’t break the bank at all. That said, for your first whistle I wouldn’t recommend one of the “low” whistles. Those are a bit more difficult to play.

Thanks, which key would you recommend for a first whistle?

I’d recommend key of D for a first whistle. There’s a lot of whistle repertoire in D, and it goes beautifully with a guitar tuned to DADGAD. Also, you can play a D whistle throughout it’s entire range in E Dorian mode, which works well with a standard tuned guitar playing a song in E minor.

FWIW, my first whistle a Clarke “Celtic”. They make others that are good too. I have one of their “Originals” that has a wooden block, and I have a couple of their “Sweetone” whistles, too.

1 Like

Thanks. At the moment I stick to standard tuning. Have used open G and other open tunings in the past for playing slide blues. I injured the middle finger on my fretting hand thanks to a moment of stupidity on my part with a planer. Couldn’t play normal guitar for several months while the finger healed so I swapped to slide blues. Lots of fun. Thankfully the finger is back to normal now and with the bit that’s permanently missing on the side of the middle finger an A chord is easier than ever.

In that case the D whistle should work very well for songs in the key of D (obviously) and songs in E minor. You could use it in some other keys, too, but it’s more difficult. (This is exactly why you end up with multiple whistles in different keys.)

Glad to hear your finger is all healed up.

Damn this is GOOD STUFF.

  • First of all, I think your voice and this vocal range is SPOT ON for you. Well sung!
  • Good prudction quality
  • That whistle makes it ooze with atmosphere.

I’m seriously impressed!
only remark; bass a tad too much

We want more!


Thank you, Lieven. Always gratified to hear praise and requests for more! :slight_smile:

And also pleased to receive constructive criticism and feedback. Do you think the bass is simply a bit too high in the mix, or do you think it’s more of an EQ issue for the bass? I’ll probably play with both, but I’d like to hear your impression.

Thanks. Very occasionally I can feel a little bit of pain on certain chords. After the shock of the initial injury my thoughts instantly went to OMG what have I done to my fretting hand.

Thankfully it took a piece off the side and not the top, so I’m very lucky in that regard.

My running joke is that once other guitar player see how cleanly I can finger an A chord with the piece off my middle finger, they’ll run to the plastic surgeon, holding their middle finger up in the classic position and ask for a “Tony”.


Yes! That would sound brilliant.

I’ve never heard the song before JWC but I really liked it. Your playing, singing and penny playing was second to none. Brilliant stuff once again.

1 Like

I think so, too. I’m not a very accomplished mandolin player (more of a dabbler), so I need to work out a mandolin part.

Thank you, Stefan.