David Ferguson
Photo: Courtesy of IVPR

David Ferguson, Dan Auerbach, and Ronnie McCoury Ponder Life’s Meaning on “White Dove”

David Ferguson, Dan Auerbach, and Ronnie McCoury sing and play beautifully on the Stanley Brothers’ classic “White Dove”, a simple song with a profound message.

“White Dove” is an old Stanley Brothers bluegrass hymn that combines themes about the natural beauty of Appalachia, the joys of childhood, the mourning of one’s parents, and the glory of God. The brothers proclaim their love for mother and father even though they are long dead. The fact that the two singers shared the same close relatives makes the harmonies especially poignant as they confront the darkness of the graveyard.

Grammy Award-winning songwriter, musician, producer, and engineer David Ferguson is a Nashville legend who has spent the last 40-plus years working with such notables as Johnny Cash, John Prine, and Sturgill Simpson. Ferguson finally released his debut album as a headliner, Nashville No More, back in September 2021. Ferguson has just put out a version of “White Dove” as a bonus track from those sessions that feature Dan Auerbach and Ronnie McCoury. (Nashville No More also showcases notable guests such as Jerry Douglas, Margo Price, Stuart Duncan, Béla Fleck, Kenny Vaughn, and Tim O’Brien.)

The trio sing and play beautifully on “White Dove”. Ferguson’s baritone voice has an ache in his throat bigger than the state of Tennessee. The other two sing in powerful, plaintive tones, contrasting Ferguson’s lonesome wails. The acoustic, stringed instrumentation follows the same technique. The three become one as they ask themselves the existential questions about the meaning of life without heretically querying the existence of the Lord. The beauty of the music serves as a response. “White Dove” is one of those songs that seem so simple but turn out to be profound and sophisticated in its message.