November 30, 2008
I appreciate a good cover. When I discovered Ryan Adams's cover of "Wonderwall" from Brit-pop superpower Oasis, I couldn't believe how he transformed such a catchy/vapid/stuck-in-your-head-all-day song into a sad/haunting/put-on-a-mix-tape-and-convince-a-girl-you're-sensitive, song. Or Andrew Bird's* cover of Dylan's "Oh Sister." He puts some of those sweet avian sinews on the skeleton of an otherwise great tune.
It's also nice to hear a cover that is not trying to reinvent the original. The Aimee Mann/ Michael Penn cover of the Beatles "Two of Us" is just Aimee Mann/Michael Penn singing "Two of Us". I sometimes tend to think if the song was great in the first place, leave it the hell alone. Sort of like chili. Stop adding. Serve it up. I can even swallow this Calexico/Iron&Wine covering the Stones "Wild Horses," which is one of the most over-covered songs of all time and was played no fewer than 100 times during Lilith Fair in 1999.
This is where you, dear reader, stop asking questions because I will never say why I was at Lilith in '99. And '98, for that matter. Some things are better left secrets. But my God did those Indigo Girls lay down some sweet harmonies while I was swaying and searching for my manhood.
Also at Lilith, fresh off her fame from one of the stupidest songs ever, is Joan Osbourne. I remember her being disheveled and uninteresting. Or maybe I was too busy smoking a clove cigarette to pay attention. In any case, it is Joan Osbourne upon whom my wrath is about to turn. It was a few days ago when I learned that she has taken up "Cathedrals" by Jump Little Children. Now, in interest of full disclosure, I love Jump. They were one of those bands that provided the soundtrack to my formative years, and to many others who went backpacking in Europe after college. They weren't at Lilith Fair. They had great live shows. The song "Cathedrals" had a brief moment in the sun, I would say it is their most widely played tune, and I always loved its orchestration. It's a damn good song. So here is Joan, who successfully puts a grinder to the sharp edge of the song, and makes it dull as a dinner plate. If God was one of us, he would turn vengeful and angry and do a little smiting.
However, I guess I should reserve my own wrath to fighting the real darkness. Like when Hillary Duff gives my generation the onus of allowing this cover to be played in a packed arena. No Hillary, it's not your generation. And please, please, fade away.