The problem with choosing to do a running series of posts on something – surprisingly – isn’t actually sitting down and writing the post. For me, it’s choosing which cover to do next. There are so many covers of songs in which the cover is interesting on the basis of how it changes the interpretation of the original. It’s something I’ve grown to enjoy about music, as opposed to my youth when I preferred the original (first version I’d heard, anyway) of a song; and, I didn’t really enjoy live versions of the song when it deviated from the studio recording I’d listened to so often.
As I’ve spent more time listening to new types of music, I’ve run across many different covers of songs out of their genre. Country music is especially prone to this and I’m not sure why. I can’t remember offhand what song it was (I think it was an Adele song) that was being covered on a country music station, and I thought ‘but why, it’s not that old’. My first thought was that it so people that listened exclusively to country could hear good music once in a while. (Oh, I’m sorry, let me zip up, my bias is showing ;) )
At first I was considering posting Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, as there have been many covers, each of which has been important to the evolution of the song, but like with Hurt, I’ve decided to wait a bit on that one. There are quite a few interesting stories behind the covers of each of those songs (Sad Kermit has covered both, for example) and I figure I should leave those as back-up for when I can’t think of something else.
Instead, I’m going to go with a cover of a Micheal Jackson song.
As what will be usual for this, the original first:
The song is pure pop genius. It was catchy (not always a good thing, the same can be said of Britney Spear’s songs, ebola and the plague); it has a nice rhythm to it, is a fairly straightforward progression. Easy to tap along to for those of us that are rhythm-impaired. (I can do drill in-step, but I can’t dance worth a damn. My dancing is a cross between an epileptic chicken having a seizure and Elaine from Seinfeld).
There have been a few covers of this song, but my favorite is the one that stripped away the pop and reinterpreted the song from a more bluesy angle:
This, to me, is what makes a great cover. The lyrics aren’t changed, but the musicality that accompanies those lyrics change the emotion of the song completely. Instead of the lightness that pop necessarily imparts to a song, Cornell’s version takes the song to a darker place. The solo artist with an instrument, without the synth or remix of most live performances or recordings seems more intimate, appropriate to the subject of the song. Brilliant.
That’s all for this week’s Covers. I’m open to any suggestions or ideas for songs to go over if there are any preferences that anyone would like to see; otherwise, I’ll toss an imaginary dart at the list of songs in my head and go from there. I tend to do a bit of reading about the songs when I’m Googling the youtube videos, but I’m not sure people would be interested in the history behind some of the covers. If I’m wrong in that assumption, let me know.
For my fellow canucks, have a great long weekend!