SXSW Day 2: Songs That No One In Their Right Mind Should Cover
There are a lot of sacred songs in the rock and roll canon, songs that are so connected with their composer that any attempt to replicate them, to put your spin on them, to reinterpret them, is at best doomed to fail, at worst will insult not only the song but your fans. Near the top of that list, right next to "Like a Rolling Stone" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit," is "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen. Today at the Twangfest showcase at Jovina's, I witnessed not only a cover of the latter, but a double-whammy.
"Born to Run" was attempted by a collection of rockers called the This Is American Music Revue, featuring members Grand Champeen, Two Cow Garage, Glossary, and The Drams. It wasn't bad, per se. It was capable, they were having fun, and there was enthusiasm. But it was "Born to Run," and even if I think The Boss is over-rated, "Born to Run" is a perfect pop song so tied to Bruce that even capable musicians fail miserably. The shortcoming wasn't in the execution. It was in the very idea of it.
Then there's the case of Jeff Buckley, who so nailed Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" that he made it his own. Hot on the heels of the "Born to Run" failure, David Bazan (aka Pedro the Lion) attempted in his wobbly, cracked voice to cover Buckley's Cohen cover, and it was painful to experience, the aural equivalent of not only pissing of Buckley's grave, but while Leonard Cohen was standing next to it.
Tonight, dear reader, I'm headed to see Montreal band Islands at the Cedar Street Courtyard, then to Emo's IV Lounge to see great and totally underrated electro-acoustic band Le Loup, and then onto John Maus and No Age at the Habana Annex Backyard. Probably. Unless something pulls me somewhere else. I'll keep you posted on who covers what, and why in their right mind they would do such a thing.