Editor's note. This week director Jason Reitman is guest blogging at West Coast Sound. Reitman, whose new film, Up in the Air, was nominated for six Golden Globes yesterday (including Best Director and Best Screenplay nominations for Reitman … congrats!), is also a pretty big music head, as you'll see below. On Monday, he wrote on some of his early soundtrack influences. Yesterday he wrote offered fourteen perfect musical moments.
by Jason Reitman
I'll be the first to admit that yesterday's music blog was a little esoteric. I'm bringing it back to something a little more accessible: Cover songs. I'm not sure if I can even fully articulate what makes them so enjoyable. Certainly there is a simple excitement in hearing something familiar and yet different. However, I would argue for a greater value to cover songs. Somehow by hearing a familiar song as sung through someone else's vocal chords, we can often for the first time truly understand a song's potency. Perhaps you needed to hear a rock song played as folk or a man's song sung by a woman. Sometimes, it's simply a removal of irony that forces us to actually listen to the words.
Here's a few of my favorites:
Jimmy Scott covering “Nothing Compares 2 U”
The Sinead O'Conner song is beautiful but it won't come close to breaking your heart like this voice crackling rendition.
Electrelane covering “I'm On Fire”
For whatever reason, Bruce Springsteen never felt quite on fire the way the female lead singer of this cover does, particularly starting at 1:45.
Bruce Lash covering “Mexican Radio”
The Stan Ridgeway song wasn't exactly a traditional song in the first place, but somehow removing the urgency and bringing it down to a loungy vibe shows how clever the musical moves are in this track.
Them featuring Van Morrison covering “It's All Over Now, Baby Blue”
Originally heard this track on the Basquiat soundtrack. It is one of my all time favorite mood setters. It speaks to my happiest and most depressing moments. Sacrilege, I know, but I think it's far more moving than the Bob Dylan original.
Nirvana covering “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”
Certainly this can be said for all the covers from the MTV Unplugged session, but there is an unmatched pathos to Cobain that can't be found in the Leadbelly recording or any another recording in recent memory. It's heart shattering and yet stunningly beautiful.
Klaxons covering “No Diggity”
Buddy Holly covering “Love Is Strange”
Madeleine Peyroux covering “Between The Bars”
Joan Osborne covering “Everybody Is A Star”
Yo La Tengo covering “You Can Have It All”