Be sure to check out
Be sure to check out
Certain songs have an inherent appeal that makes them popular covers. They infect the brains and resonate with artists of any era, inspiring their own rendition. It's one of the purest examples of imitation as flattery. One of these reliable, time-traveling songs is The Kinks' “I Go to Sleep” – a 1960s classic that has survived through time to pop up every now and then with wildly different and interesting versions.
The original is a haunting bare bones piece with nothing more than a distant, methodical piano played like a ticking clock. It's a lonely song, but the expression of that emotion is subtle. It feels more like someone drifting through life, numb and isolated, rather than a tortured soul.Then when The Pretenders did it in 1981 – what a difference. They add in drums, bass, guitar and Chrissie Hynde's seductive vocal work. It's really a version that cashes in on all the emotional potential that The Kinks set up. Whereas their strategy was to play it restrained and methodical, The Pretenders indulge. It's most evident in the way they create a climax on what was once just a normal bridge – “I was wrong/I will cry/I will love you/ 'Til the day I die” – is suddenly a small rock out session. Here in modern times, the logical step after The Pretenders' version is Australian pop-jazz singer Sia, who sang the crap out of the song in 2008 backed by a soulful jazz ensemble. This is a version that makes pure sense. Of course, a song about the longings of love would have a heavy mood, riffing vocals and a lounge singer aesthetic. It's the cleanest, most obvious way to play the song, and it's a wonder that it hadn't been done sooner. We are now so far removed from the original that people forget it was The Kinks who made it in the first place. A year later, S. Maharba joins the conversation with the most experimental and hardest hitting version yet. Reappropriating a cover by Marion, he applies his lo-fi electronic style to a heavy, almost industrial-sounding beat. This is a song that sounds like a slow fight. Each version slightly tweaks the meaning and spirit of the song, and this one is concerned with unsettling its listeners. There's an eerie drone in the background, and every kick drum is a gunshot. It's not the way love songs are supposed to sound, and that's precisely what makes it a thrilling reimagination. But things have a way of working in cycles. The most recent version, a 2010 offering by British and German singer-songwriter Anika, is at once experimental and in keeping with the original. Sia and The Pretenders made it accessible and beautiful, S. Maharba gave it some bang, and Anika imagines what the song would sound like if it were created today. It's as low key as the original, except it makes decisions to keep you on edge. It's still paced with the same restraint, but the timekeeping piano has been replaced by a loud, pitch black bass. Anika's distinct singing style heightens the otherworldly quality found in the original and maintains an emotional disconnect, playing off the lyrics' inherent wild passion. If I were to count all the covers of this song, I would say that number would be comparable to the population of Nevada. The Applejacks, Cher, Peggy Lee – the list goes on. A good cover isn't merely just an artist's performance of a cool song. It has got to change the angle of the song in some way, to reveal hidden secrets of the original that can only be caught when you refract the light.
1964: The Rolling Stones arrive in New York City for their first U.S. tour. The first date of the tour lands on June 5th in San Bernardino, California.
1969: Jimi Hendrix appears on the cover of Rolling Stone, which is sold at a reasonably priced 35 cents.1970: The Kinks' Ray Davies makes a 6,000 mile round trip from New York to London to record one word. Davies changes the word "Coca- Cola" to "Cherry Cola" on the bands forthcoming single 'Lola' due to an advertising ban at BBC Radio.
1977: The BBC announces a ban on the new Sex Pistols single "God Save The Queen" saying it is, "in gross bad taste." A warning is issued to radio stations stating that playing the single would be in breach of the Broadcasting act. The single reaches No. 2 on the UK chart.1984: Wham! have their first No. 1 hit with "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go".This George Michael-written jam was inspired by a note Wham! partner Andrew Ridgeley left for his parents. Ridgeley originally intended to write "wake me up before you go" but with "up" accidentally written twice, he wrote "go" twice on purpose. “Don’t leave me hanging on like a yo-yo” was Michael’s own contribution. 1985: Prince & The Revolution start a three-week run at No. 1 on the US album chart with Around The World In A Day which features everyone’s favorite song about a hat, “Raspberry Beret.” 1997: Singer Jeff Buckley’s body is discovered floating in the Mississippi River. A passenger on a tourist boat spotted the body near the southern tip of Mud Island in Memphis, Tennessee. The singer/songwriter had disappeared during a spontaneous night swim a week before on May 29th. 1998: Ginger Spice, Geri Halliwell, announces she is quitting The Spice Girls saying, "This is because of differences between us. I am sure the group will continue to be successful and I wish them all the best." The group’s 1997/1998 reunion tour grosses more than $70,000,000. 2005: White Stripes singer Jack White marries girlfriend, British model Karen Elson, (a red head, of course), in a canoe on the Amazon in Manaus, Brazil. 2008: VSQ favorites Death Cab For Cutie are No. 1 on the U.S. album chart with their sixth release, Narrow Stairs, which features the lead single stalker anthem “I Will Possess Your Heart.” Be sure to check out: The String Quartet Tribute to The Rollings Stones Available now at iTunes and Amazon The String Quartet Tribute to Jimi Hendrix Available now at iTunes and Amazon The String Quartet Tribute to Jeff Buckley Available now at iTunes and Amazon The String Quartet Tribute to The White Stripes Available now at iTunes and Amazon Ghost: The String Quartet Tribute to Death Cab for Cutie Available now at iTunes and Amazon