Sunday, October 9

Cuttings 5 - Cover Versions

'Look What They Done to my Song!'

->What differs in the performance of different artists singing the sanem song?

->What differs in the songwriter's opriginal performance to other people's interpretations?

->Performance of a cover version is usually based on people knowing the sang already - there is a difference in ambition between the performance of an original song and a cover - what is the role of audience expectation in forming the artist's performance?

'Ain't No Sunshine' (Bill Withers, Michael Jackson, Joe Cocker)
'Cry me a River' (Julie London, Dinah Washingtom, Ray Charles)
'Georgia On My Mind' (Billie Holiday,Ella Fitzgerald,Ray Charles,Willie Nelson,James Brown)
'Heard it Through the Grapevine' (Marvin Gaye, Credence Clearwater, Roger)
'Little Girl Blue' (Nina Simone, Janis Joplin)

In listening to different versions of these songs and analysing the performances of the various singers (some being the songwriters too), some thoughts arose...

->Each song/performer establishes its own world/ mood - how does this happen?
->What are the limits of cerebral/verbal analysis of performance/music?
->Is a recorded song a performance?
->How much do we imagine the singer visually as we listen to a song in darkness?
->What do our cultural expectations of the performer mean for the song?
->Do we judge a song by how much it 'moves' us? totally subjective? OR are there tickboxes which form a good song?

Think of Carol King's 'Natural Woman' compared to Aretha Franklin's cover:
->Public Vs Private; intimate Vs dramatic; performace to a crowd Vs performance which appears to be for the person addressed in the song, or for yourself - can a singer sing a song in front of other people without performing?

Think of Bob Dylan's 'All Along The Watch Tower' compared to Jimi Henrix's cover:
->The role of music/accompaniment in performance of a song is essential - but in some interpretations it is more crucial to the meaning. And how does this balance out/ compare with the significance of the lyrics to a song - in some cases the music is really a vehicle for the lyrics, in other the lyrics are overshadowed by the music..