Singer/songwriter Clarence Greenwood, also known as CITIZEN COPE, has delivered a new acoustic album, The Pull of Niagara Falls, that reflects heavily on the artist’s early career while delivering three new striking, insightful songs and a cover of Randy Newman’s “A Wedding In Cherokee County.”
“‘The Pull of Niagara Falls’ is a lyrically heavy, ballad based, acoustic and vocal driven collection of songs,” Greenwood says. “I’ve read a lot about how Bruce Springsteen recorded ‘Nebraska,’ because I ‘ve had difficulty recording an acoustic album in the past, and wanted some insight. The compositions are weighted in what some may consider dark themes lived through the uncelebrated and flawed characters’ paths between cultural weariness and individual perseverance. The album touches on the symbolism of the shotgun in American culture, weaving in a storyline of an accidental homicide in a rural small town.”
Many of the songs on The Pull of Niagara Falls were originally written in the late ‘90s in Washington, DC, in the early years, prior to Greenwood’s debut. Originally intended for use on a never-released debut album entitled Shotguns, the those tracks document creative and personal coming of age for Greenwood as a songwriter.
The theme of album centers around the shotgun as an American cultural symbol of fear and its relationship to incarceration, institutionally and personally. COPE covers various uncomfortable topics ranging from the estrangement between a father and a son on “Family” to “Officer Friendly,” a song dealing with the rural backroad accidental manslaughter of a young man in a hunting accident.
“Difficult conversations of family, country, regret and loss are forged in the storytelling and ultimately reveal the unmatched ability of the human spirit to endure, where there exists a gravitational pull to fall,” Greenwood says.
The Pull of Niagara Falls is a take on America through the eyes of uncelebrated counterculture characters, mostly narrated through the view of the one supposedly doing wrong. “To do a thematic concept record on my debut proved a bit challenging,” says Greenwood. “I haven’t attempted to weave a storyline of songs together intentionally since, but it has happened naturally in some cases where songs connected to one another thematically. Now you can hear these songs as I wrote them on guitar and vocals. Very bare. But they are new recordings. And I felt the need to document these works.”
The Pull of Niagara Falls track listing:
A Time Comes Around
The Gambler’s Theme
The Pull of Niagara Falls
Wedding in Cherokee County
Scared of Heights
“This is a really heavy record and can be viewed as somewhat depressing,” Greenwood says. “But I'm so grateful for that time and these songs because they took me to a very good place. I kinda consider this my ‘Nebraska’ or ‘Blood on the Tracks.’”
For a detailed breakdown of the tracks on The Pull of Niagara Falls, visit https://citizencope.com/blog/2021/2/1/behind-the-pull-of-niagara-falls.
The Pull of Niagara Falls is available https://ffm.to/thepullofniagarafalls.syz.
The success of COPE’s music has always been a slow burn, rather than a flash in the pan. His 2002 single “Let The Drummer Kick” eventually went Platinum without any support from commercial radio. The Washington Post has hailed him as “DC’s finest export since Marvin Gaye,” while Rolling Stone raved that his “uncommon chords and harmonies combine delicate dissonance with unexpected flashes of beauty in the direction of the divine.”
Greenwood followed up his self-titled debut with The Clarence Greenwood Recordings, an album Vibe praised as “flawless throughout,” gushing that COPE “makes music that feeds your soul…this is one of those CDs you hear at a friend’s house and rush out to buy.” The record achieved the extremely rare accomplishment of being certified Gold without spending a single week on the Billboard top 200 and garnered three Gold singles, “Sideways,” “Bullet and A Target” and “Sons Gonna Rise” without the benefit of commercial radio play. The collection was largely ignored by mainstream media, yet the grassroots swell of support kept sales rolling year after year, to the tune of 700,000 copies, and opened the doors to film and television syncs with tracks appearing in Entourage, Sons of Anarchy, Alpha Dog and more. Songs from the record would go on to be covered by everyone from Carlos Santana and Sheryl Crow to Richie Havens and Rhymefest, and in the years that followed, Citizen Cope has headlined all 50 states and shared stages with superstars like Eric Clapton.
After recording his last major label record with 2006’s with Every Waking Moment, Greenwood launched his own label to release 2010’s The Rainwater LP and 2012’s One Lovely Day, his highest charting album to date and 2019’s Heroin and Helicopters.