Dark Was the Night (album)

Dark Was the Night is the twentieth compilation release benefiting the Red Hot Organization, an international charity dedicated to raising funds and awareness for HIV and AIDS. Featuring exclusive recordings by a number of independent artists and production by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National, the compilation was released on 16 February 2009 (UK) and 17 February (US) as a double CD, three vinyl LPs, and as a digital download.[9] John Carlin, the founder of the Red Hot Organization, was the executive producer for the album. The title is derived from the Blind Willie Johnson song "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground", which is covered on this collection by the Kronos Quartet.

Dark Was the Night
Dark Was the Night (Front Cover).png
Compilation album for charity by
ReleasedFebruary 16, 2009
Label4AD (DAD 2835)
ProducerAaron and Bryce Dessner of The National
Red Hot AIDS Benefit Series chronology
Red Hot + Riot
Dark Was the Night
Red Hot + Rio 2
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3.5/5 stars link
Drowned in Sound8/10[1]
Gigwise3.5/5 stars[2]
Music Feeds10/10 stars[3][4]
Robert ChristgauA-[6]
The Skinny5/5 stars[7]
Toro8.5/10 stars[8]

John Carlin and Aaron Dessner approached Martin Mills and Richard Russell of Beggars Group with the idea for the album. Their selection of artists to include was an attempt to "capture this musical renaissance, which may not have the cultural impact of grunge or punk, but is equally significant from a cultural and creative standpoint...these artists are not fringe or marginal."[10] The American folk roots of the compilation are acknowledged in the title and exemplified by tracks such as the cover of Bob Dylan's "I Was Young When I Left Home". Production of the album was focused on supporting the Red Hot Organization, as Dessner says "a lot of the artists wouldn't take the money...Beggars agreed to be really transparent about how it's done, so as much money flows to the charity side as possible."[10]

As of May 2012, Dark Was the Night has raised over $1.6 million, a sum that represents all the profits from worldwide sales. John Carlin acknowledged the reason for the album's success, saying "Dark Was the Night encapsulated the spirit and creativity of a new generation of musicians whose work struck a chord and got people to actually purchase the album and raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight AIDS."[11]

On May 3, 2009 4AD and Red Hot produced Dark Was the Night — Live, a concert commemorating the newest Red Hot album. The show took place at Radio City Music Hall and featured several of the artists that contributed to the compilation including Dave Sitek, Dirty Projectors, Feist, My Brightest Diamond, The National, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings plus more.[12]

Track listingEdit

CD and digital track listingEdit

Disc 1 – "This Disc"
No.TitleWriter(s)Performed byLength
1."Knotty Pine"Dirty Projectors and David ByrneDirty Projectors and David Byrne2:23
2."Cello Song"Nick DrakeThe Books featuring José González3:54
3."Train Song"Vashti BunyanFeist and Ben Gibbard3:02
4."Brackett, WI"Justin VernonBon Iver4:03
5."Deep Blue Sea"Grizzly BearGrizzly Bear3:46
6."So Far Around the Bend"The NationalThe National3:43
8."Feeling Good"Anthony Newley and Leslie BricusseMy Brightest Diamond3:54
9."Dark Was the Night"Blind Willie JohnsonKronos Quartet3:51
10."I Was Young When I Left Home"Bob DylanAntony with Bryce Dessner4:55
11."Big Red Machine"Justin Vernon and Aaron DessnerJustin Vernon and Aaron Dessner4:39
12."Sleepless"Colin MeloyThe Decemberists7:54
13."Stolen Houses (Die)"Sam BeamIron & Wine1:07
14."Service Bell"Ed DrosteGrizzly Bear and Feist2:23
15."You Are the Blood"CastanetsSufjan Stevens10:14
Disc 2 – "That Disc"
No.TitleWriter(s)Performed byLength
1."Well-Alright"Britt DanielSpoon2:46
2."Lenin"Arcade FireArcade Fire4:06
3."Mimizan"Zach CondonBeirut2:43
4."El Caporal"Jim JamesMy Morning Jacket3:33
5."Inspiration Information"Shuggie OtisSharon Jones & The Dap-Kings4:06
6."With a Girl Like You"Reg PresleyDave Sitek3:27
7."Blood Pt. 2" (remix)Raymond RaposaBuck 65 featuring Sufjan Stevens & Serengeti3:36
8."Hey, Snow White"Dan BejarThe New Pornographers4:26
9."Gentle Hour"Peter GutteridgeYo La Tengo5:31
10."Another Saturday"Stuart MurdochStuart Murdoch2:56
11."Happiness"Riceboy SleepsJónsi & Alex8:37
12."Amazing Grace"John NewtonCat Power and Dirty Delta Blues3:34
13."The Giant of Illinois"Brett and Rennie SparksAndrew Bird4:45
14."Lua"Conor OberstConor Oberst & Gillian Welch5:54
15."When the Road Runs Out"Blonde Redhead & DevastationsBlonde Redhead & Devastations3:28
16."Love vs. Porn"Kevin DrewKevin Drew3:57
  • "Play the Game" (Queen) by Beach House was additionally released as an iTunes only bonus track as the fifteenth track on "That Disc".
  • A misprint in the track listing on the CD case lists Cat Power's "Amazing Grace" as track 10, and Stuart Murdoch's "Another Saturday" as track 12. The booklet has the correct order.

Vinyl track listingEdit

Side oneEdit

  1. "Knotty Pine" – Dirty Projectors and David Byrne
  2. "Cello Song" – The Books and José González
  3. "Train Song" – Feist and Ben Gibbard
  4. "Brackett, WI" – Bon Iver
  5. "Deep Blue Sea" – Grizzly Bear

Side twoEdit

  1. "So Far Around the Bend" – The National
  2. "Tightrope" – Yeasayer
  3. "Feeling Good" – My Brightest Diamond
  4. "Dark Was the Night" – Kronos Quartet
  5. "I Was Young When I Left Home" – Antony + Bryce Dessner
  6. "Big Red Machine" – Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner

Side threeEdit

  1. "Well-Alright" – Spoon
  2. "Lenin" – Arcade Fire
  3. "Mimizan" – Beirut
  4. "El Caporal" – My Morning Jacket
  5. "Inspiration Information" – Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
  6. "With a Girl Like You" – Dave Sitek

Side fourEdit

  1. "You Are the Blood" – Sufjan Stevens
  2. "Blood Pt. 2" – Buck 65 Remix (featuring Sufjan Stevens and Serengeti)
  3. "Hey, Snow White" – The New Pornographers
  4. "Gentle Hour" – Yo La Tengo
  5. "Die" – Iron and Wine

Side fiveEdit

  1. "Service Bell" – Grizzly Bear and Feist
  2. "Sleepless" – The Decemberists
  3. "Happiness" – Riceboy Sleeps
  4. "Amazing Grace" – Cat Power and Dirt Delta Blues

Side sixEdit

  1. "Another Saturday" – Stuart Murdoch
  2. "The Giant of Illinois" – Andrew Bird
  3. "Lua" – Conor Oberst and Gillian Welch
  4. "When the Road Runs Out" – Blonde Redhead and Devastations
  5. "Love vs. Porn" – Kevin Drew


Additionally, a double A-side 7" single was released to promote the compilation:

  • Dark Was the Night: Songs from the Upcoming Red Hot Compilation
    • 2 February 2009; 4AD AD 2834
    1. "Knotty Pine" – Dirty Projectors and David Byrne – 2:23
    2. "So Far Around the Bend" – The National – 3:43


  1. ^ Skinner, James (2009-02-16). "Various — Dark Was the Night / Releases". Drownedinsound.com. Retrieved 2012-02-12.
  2. ^ Hot right now (2009-02-13). "Various Artists – 'Dark Was The Night' (4AD) Released 16/02/09". Gigwise. Archived from the original on 2012-04-04. Retrieved 2012-02-12.
  3. ^ Music Feeds review (very positive; missing rating)
  4. ^ Music Feeds article by same reviewer, mentioning rating: "Now I know I gave Dark Was The Night a 10/10 as well..."
  5. ^ Plagenhoef, Scott (2009-02-26). "Various Artists — Dark Was The Night". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2012-04-09.
  6. ^ Christgau, Robert (April 2009). "CG: Dark Was the Night". Robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  7. ^ Album review by Gillian Watson. (2009-02-13). "Various Artists — Dark Was The Night". The Skinny. Retrieved 2012-02-12.
  8. ^ "Good was the Compilation". Toro Magazine. 2009-02-18. Retrieved 2012-02-12.
  9. ^ 4AD – News – Dark Was the Night – full artist list, artwork and release date confirmed Archived 2009-06-28 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ a b Cohen, Jonathan (21 February 2009). "Starry, Starry 'Night'". Billboard. 121 (7): 29.
  11. ^ "4AD – News – Reveal amount raised for charity from Dark Was the Night, retrieved 27 October 2009". Archived from the original on 30 November 2009. Retrieved 27 October 2009.
  12. ^ "Dark Was the Night @ Radio City Music Hall in NYC (Brightest Byrne Bon National Feist Projectors) – pics, review & setlist". Brooklynvegan.com. 2009-05-04. Retrieved 2012-02-12.

External linksEdit