Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I never heard him, when he called to me. I never heard him, that's all you see

I was listening to Courtney on the subway today.
And it made me think about the importance of music in my life and how it has played such a vital role in allowing me to feel a certain amount of internal expression.
One of the things that I find very fascinating about my taste in music, and probably in vocal music in general is that it is in part the lyrics, but also how the singer sings or presents the lyrics along with the music behind it.
A lot of critics complained that Courtney is ruining her voice, and it is a lot more gruff and raunchy than it used to be, but I really like that. I think that it allows her to be more expressive in her anger and in her lyrics. One of the things that I love about a lot of the singers/musicians that I listen to is the different qualities of their voice. I love Juliana for adding sorrow and sweetness at the exact same time, Liz Phair for being so deadpan, Billie Holliday for sounding like a mixture of cream and taffy, Jarvis Cocker of Pulp for sounding so fucking pompous but still down to earth, Sara Craig for her crystal growl voice and Manda from Bis/Data Panik for the way her voice has matured over the years, going from sounding very whiny and childlike to a mature developed voice that is distinct in itself, and Annie Lennox just for sounding so fucking beautiful and her ability to handle a wide range of musical stylings.
I find that the vocal intonations can heavily change the meaning of a song. For example Tori Amos's cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" just sounds plain weird to me. I have tried to like it, I have as I am a big fan of hers but I just quiver at the way that she delivers the lyrics and the fact that she is backed just by her piano. The songs was not meant to sound this way, I don't care what anyone says - Kurt never intended for his song to come out sounding like that. I understand that this is Tori's interpretation and blah blah blah but I don't know. It just does not ring true for me, there is something lacking in the way that she presents the song.
It is not that I do not appreciate covers or someone else interpreting a song. I do, I fucking love covers, some of my all time fav songs are covers. And I hate it when the cover sounds a lot like the original, as I feel that there is no reason to remake a song just for the sake of sounding like the original artist. Many times the new song will have a different twist on the meaning and make the song that much more powerful for me. For example, Pansy Division does a cover of "Son Of A Preacherman", this song is punk and with a gay male singer it kind of changes the song a bit and makes it a little more unusual.
Another example of a great cover is The White Stripes cover of the Dolly Parton song "Jolene" where the lyrics are not changed in anyway so it is a man to singing to a woman to leave his man alone. I think this is fascinating, especially since I think that Dolly is a lesbian and that she wrote the song originally to express her interests in this woman who is with her man. But that is just my opinion.
I also love Letters To Cleo's cover of The Cars "The Dangerous Type" man that cover just fucking rocks, and with Kay Hanley's voice it is wicked kick ass and I think an improvement on the original. Juliana Hatfield has done many covers in her career and I appreciate them all as she usually tries something new and different, she will change the lyrics around or she slows the song down to a crawl, or replaces all of the guitar with string instruments. I love when an artist has a good feel for a song and is able to change the song with a cover, while keeping the original vibe somehow intact.
So what covers does everyone out there really appreciate or hate?


At Wednesday, 22 March, 2006, Blogger St. Dickeybird said...

The Sisters of Mercy do a chilling version of (the stones') Gimme Shelter.

Placebo does a great job of Kate Bush's 'Running Up That Hill'...

I have a bootleg of Radiohead singing U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday with a scary, apathetic tone.

At Wednesday, 22 March, 2006, Blogger emily said...

I have a fondness for anything by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, who do punk covers of all sorts of different songs. I especially like their cover of "Rainbow Connection"; it makes me giggle.

I love Weeping Tile's cover of "Don't Let It Bring You Down", by Neil Young. Sarah Harmer's voice and emotion in the song makes me shiver.

I could go on and on... :)


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