Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Cymbal #26:: Dirty Deeds Done to Great Tunes


It's Dylan's most oriental tune. He's wearing his cowboy boots but his heart in an eastern desert at night. As an album of scenery and sequences, Desire is vastly underrated/overlooked, even by Dylan fans. It has to do with the Dylan you want to imagine. Would you rather have freewheelin', protesting' Dylan, or would you rather have the gravelly explorer?

As a test, contrast this song with "Don't Think Twice". They're both breakup songs. But where the earlier is a song of anger, the later is song of inevitability by a man in love with the mysteries of the universe. This Dylan is a workman, not a captive of his tools.
Bob Dylan - One More Cup of Coffee - 1975

Jack White can't always sustain  the gravity asked of him. Occasionally, it seems like he understands all the tricks but still can't see the soul of the song. To some extent he does - he invites the desert in and as a result it's more distant than the original.

The test of all versions of the song is what is done to the odd line - "
to the valley below". The original uses it to deliver a touch of panache, a little steel to stir the goblet. Jack White does not understand it. It puzzles him. Therefore, he throws it away with a growl.
The White Stripes - One More Cup of Coffee - 200X

Like a 
reductio ad absurdium, if you push a point too far, you will end up with something completely different and wrong.
Sertab Erener - One More Cup of Coffee - 2003

And how wrong. Look at what it does to the test phrase! I can't even bring myself to listen to it all the way through!

How can a tune be out of time? Don't pure concepts exist and function on a higher plane? Is this not the only universally acceptable cast of Plato's theory of forms? If a mathematical ratio can age, then what makes flesh sentient?

But when I listen to Summer Breeze, I sense a distinct time and place. It's not that the music would be a setting for something of a period, but that the period would be a setting for the tune. It's laden with hooks, like a Brian Wilson song, but not as eternal.

Seals and Croft - Summer Breeze - 1972

I really like this doom-metal cover. The riff is nice and heavy and the lyrics don't slide right off the car-bonnet surface like they do in the original. Maybe this was always the ideal viscosity for this song.
Type O Negative - Summer Girl - 1997

Last and definitely least, you can feel 
this little for a song, maybe, if you don't speak the language in which it was written. How can you be so talented and so profligate as to waste away that hook?
Jason Mraz - Summer Breeze

What a w**k.

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