Certain Songs #132: Brian Eno – “You Don’t Miss Your Water”


Album: Married to the Mob Soundtrack
Year: 1988

If I’m not mistaken, Eno’s surprise version of “You Don’t Miss Your Water” was his first lead vocal in over a decade. Sure, you could hear him singing on various Talking Heads and U2 tracks (especially the “Pride” b-side “Boomerang II,” which is clearly an Eno track in all by name), but the fact that he decided to cover an old soul classic for a film soundtrack was pretty mind-blowing.

Even more mind-blowing: just how gorgeous it was.

Featuring a rhythm guitar sound that wouldn’t sound out of place on Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) or Before and After Science and a ghostly some-might-say-“ambient” keyboard underneath, a heavenly chorus of Brian Enos slowly sing William Bell’s near perfect lyrics about losing a love through your own jackassery.

In the beginning you really loved me
But I was blind and I could not see
But when you left me, oh, how I cried
You don’t miss your water, till your well runs dry

There are some songs – “Indian Summer,” “Train From Kansas City” come to mind – for which it is impossible to record a bad version. Something about the song renders it impervious to destruction. “You Don’t Miss Your Water” is one of those songs. And though it’s been covered countless times – including by Otis Redding and The Byrds – since it was written in 1961, Eno’s is my favorite.

Maybe because the summer of 1988 was a weird and terrible time for me in the girl department, and I hadn’t really heard this song before this version, something about it completely resonated with me.

“You Don’t Miss Your Water”

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