Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines has recorded a version of a classic Pink Floyd song for an upcoming documentary soundtrack. She covers the Roger Waters song “Mother” for West of Memphis: Voices of Justice, a collection of music “from and inspired by” the new film West of Memphis, which focuses on the nearly 20-year-long ordeal of the West Memphis Three.
Maines had been an outspoken opponent of the imprisonment of the three accused child murderers, who were sent to prison and then exonerated 18 years later. Her version of “Mother” will appear on West of Memphis: Voices of Justice, which is coming out on January 15 (the film will be released in N.Y. and L.A. on Dec. 25).
This version of “Mother” features fellow West Memphis Three activist Ben Harper, who plays lap steel on the track. Harper is also credited with producing and recording the song. The pair performed the song on numerous occasions this summer.
The long, highly-controversial West Memphis Three case began when the bodies of three missing 8-year-old boys from West Memphis were discovered in the spring of 1993. Police concluded the boys had been victims of a knife attack. The teen suspects, Jessie Misskelley Jr., Jason Baldwin, and Damien Echols, all had reputations as delinquents and trouble-makers in the community and were all casually familiar with the three murdered boys. A controversial investigation resulted in all three teens being arrested, tried and convicted of murder.
The case had gained national attention (in part thanks to the documentary Paradise Lost by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky), and with that came widespread criticism as to how the investigation was conducted. Many felt the small police force was overwhelmed by the size and complexity of the crimes which led to numerous errors in the investigation.
Several high profile celebrities like the members of The Dixie Chicks were outspoken about the sloppy police work and worked to free the three young men. Other artists like Pearl Jam‘s Eddie Vedder, Steve Earle and actor Johnny Depp became involved in a “Free The West Memphis 3” campaign. In 2000, Vedder and Earle were two of many to contribute to Free The West Memphis 3 compilation album that benefited the legal defense team of Misskelley Jr., Baldwin, and Echols.
In 2010, The Arkansas Supreme Court took newly produced DNA evidence into account which led the defendants to strike a deal with prosecutors. Within a year, all three men entered Alford pleas — it’s a situation where a defendant asserts his or her innocence while at the same time acknowledging prosecutors have enough evidence to convict.
Echols and his wife Lorri Davis are producers on the film, which was directed by Amy Berg. It will be accompanied by a soundtrack album that includes Maines’s cover of “Mother” as well as artists such as Vedder, Lucinda Williams, Bob Dylan, White Buffalo, and Patti Smith.
1. Henry Rollins (feat. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis original score) – Damien Echols Death Row Letter Year 9
2. Natalie Maines – Mother
3. Lucinda Williams – Joy
4. Camp Freddy – The Jean Genie
5. Tonto’s Giant Nuts feat. Johnny Depp & Bruce Witkin – Little Lion Man
6. Marilyn Manson – You’re So Vain
7. Band of Horses – Dumpster World (Live)
8. Citizen Cope – DFW
9. Eddie Vedder – Satellite
10. Bill Carter – Anything Made of Paper
11. The White Buffalo – House of Pain
12. Bob Dylan – Ring Them Bells
13. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – West of Memphis Score Suite
14. Tonto’s Giant Nuts feat. Johnny Depp – Damien Echols Death Row Letter Year 16
15. Patti Smith – Wing
16. Bill Carter – Road to Nowhere (digital only)
The album is set for release on Jan. 15.
-Chris Coyle, KZOK, and Kurt Wolff, CBS Local