The Trinity Sessions: Twenty Years Later

I first heard The Trinity Sessions about twenty years ago, right when my musical taste was starting to form. I’d never heard anything like it–it was sleepy and ethereal, country and blues or neither or both. Looking back, it’s obviously had lasting influence on the music I’ve chosen to listen to since then. And I’m still a pretty big Cowboy Junkies fan.

They recorded the album in Toronto’s Church of the Holy Trinity with the band circled around a single central microphone. I gather this contributed to its unusual sound. Of course, the album went on to become something of a Canadian classic. Their version of the Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane” is still used in movies.

For the twentieth anniversary of The Trinity Sessions, the band–joined by Natalie Merchant, Ryan Adams and Vic Chestnutt (?)–returned to the church to ‘cover’ the original album. They have more microphones this time:

I’ve had a crush on Margo Timmons and Natalie Merchant since I was a teenager, so it’s kind of a thrill to see them sing together.

I’ve always admited the way the Junkies rolled with the changing music industry and their own fortunes. For example,tThey’ve always permitted bootleggers or ‘tapers’ at their concerts. They recently invited one of their ardent fans and tapers to select from the songs he recorded in 2007 for a section of their online store. If you can’t beat ’em, and all that.


  1. Mike: Indeed, I wrote about that back then. Ms. Timmons is actually married to Graham Henderson, the head of the CRIA. And yet her band runs its own label, hosts bootlegged copies of songs and approves of file sharing (I saw an interview a while back). I suspect that gig was a favour to her husband, but that’s just idle speculation.

  2. The Cowboy Junkies changed my musical tastes, too. I also fell in love with Margo Timmons at the same time.

  3. Permit me to out myself here as a fellow Timmonsite (Timmonsist?)

    I’ve been listening to Trinity Revisited a lot on the podule in the last few weeks, already psyching myself up for the live version at Massey Hall here in Toronto next January. No idea if Ms. Merchant is scheduled to put in an appearance (oh pleeeeze!), but it promises to be a heck of a gig all the same.

  4. I heard some of this new album this weekend, and am not really impressed with it. I like Natalie’s voice, but would rather hear Margo sing the songs. The other players just distract, imo. And the remakes don’t do much for the songs. This whole effort speaks to the Junkies not being able to generate new music equal to Trinity Sessions. A paradox indeed.

    Trinity Sessions is a classic better left as is!

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