Nightly Song
Musings on Songs that Strike a Chord Tonight

Archive for the ‘Cover Songs’ Category

Absolutely Sweet Marie by Jason and the Scorchers

May 31, 2010

Absolutely Sweet Marie

Performed by Jason and The Scorchers and written by Bob Dylan.

To live outside the law, you must be honest

A great version of a great song, Jason and the Scorchers demonstrate how to do a cover song. I want to talk about this song first, then riff for a bit on cover songs and list some great covers.

Jason and the Scorchers burn through this song with a frenzy that completely remakes the Dylan original. They do what great cover versions require: They make the song their own with no regard to the original. They re-envision the song so we see it anew again, see it in ways not imaginable before, yet obvious once we hear the new version. Where Dylan’s version played coy and danced around the swirl of images, Jason and the Scorchers roar through the verses, turning gentle references into dangerous shards and making clear the sexual longing and thwarted lust. Whipping guitar, pounding drums and bass and Jason’s snarl remove any doubt about the meaning of the song.

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Bettye LaVette – Damn Your Eyes

May 29, 2010

Damn Your Eyes

Performed by Bettye LaVette on the album Bettye LaVette in Concert: Let Me Down Easy. Written by Steve Bogard and Barbara Wynick.

This woman can sing, can grab you by the collar, shake you up and make you tremble. A nine minute song with five verses and a chorus, yet it all comes down to the title line, “Damn your eyes.” With Bettye LaVette, one line is enough. With that single, short line she makes us understand that dilemma when the brain knows better, but the heart, the stomach and the groin can’t help themselves. Damn your eyes. She wails, she growls, she stammers, she whispers and she howls. Damn your eyes. How much meaning, how much life she pushes through those three words. Damn your eyes.

Make her the Queen of Soul. Make her the Queen of Heartache. Give her whatever crown she wants. Bettye LaVette climbs into the song and the two – woman and song – are never the same.