In honour of Valentine’s Day, we asked Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland, of the husband-and-wife roots-rock duo Whitehorse, to name “their song.” Their chosen tune, We’ll Sweep Out the Ashes in the Morning, was a surprising one, given its theme of a fleeting “stolen love.” Written by country songwriter Joyce Allsup, the duet was a minor hit for the Grand Old Opry duo of Carl and Pearl Butler in 1969 and was later recorded by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris for Parsons’ 1973 album GP. Based in Toronto, Doucet and McClelland spoke about why it’s their song.
Doucet: “The song is basically about two people saying to each other, ‘Well, this whole thing is wildly inappropriate, so let’s ride it out for one more night, and we’ll deal with it in the morning.’ We lived in Nashville for a while, and we tried to immerse ourselves in classic country music. Emmylou and Gram were the couple we related to the most.
McClelland: “With a relationship, you have that initial fire. It’s all-consuming and it kind of knocks you over. Any consequences – you have to deal with them the next day. But it doesn’t matter because it’s so spectacularly in the moment. But there’s also something beautiful when that initial fire begins to wane. It’s not necessarily a negative thing. I look forward to the adventures we’ll have together – the travelling, the music and being on stage, and those passionate and intense moments. But I also enjoy the mundane things, such as sitting in bed together watching a movie and folding socks. In my wedding vow to Luke, I actually mentioned folding socks. That’s what having a life together is.”
Doucet: “The early days of a relationship are often awkward or inappropriate. This song seems to address that well. It’s always given us a chuckle. Not only does it tell the beginning of our relationship, but it probably tells the story of a lot of relationships.”
McClelland: “We’ve never attempted to play the song together, but we should. There’s a beautiful chemistry between Gram and Emmylou. I do love the idea of putting your blinders on and ignoring everything around you. It’s almost as if you have no choice – diving in, no matter what. Let’s go, we’ll deal with it in the morning, because it’s too good. It’s just too good.”
Whitehorse is currently recording the follow-up to its 2012 album, The Fate of the World Depends on this Kiss.