Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’, Slowed Down 25%, Becomes a Great My Morning Jacket Song

dolly

(Source: Aquarium Drunkard)

Honky-tonk-molasses.

Enjoy a 45 rpm recording of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” slowed down by 25% at 33 rpm.

Songs You May Have Missed #472

steel train

Steel Train: “Helplessly Hoping” (2003)

Sometimes it takes a cover version of a song to remind you how great the song was in the first place, when that spark of revelation the original holds has been dimmed somewhat by years of listens.

I was reminded of this when I bought Steel Train’s 1969 EP, which contains five of the band’s favorite songs from that particular year. It would be difficult to select a more diverse five songs: They do the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back”, Bob Marley’s “Natural Mystic”, David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, the Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising”…and Crosby, Stills & Nash’s Helplessly Hoping.

It may be sacrilegious to suggest that Steel Train’s performance rivals the CSN original, but if it does so it’s because their take does what a great cover song ought to do: find the essence, the core of the song and bring it to the fore. It’s like restoring a painting–one doesn’t create a new image, but shows us that same masterpiece with fresh, vivid colors. Today’s recording technology, in theory, allows a talented band to produce music with an impact or immediacy the original artist may have achieved but for his cruder tools. While the work of the Masters is genius, the finest examples of their students’ homages seem to say, “Look what the master could have done, if he’d had a proper studio and palette!”.

Okay, maybe that metaphor lends itself better to Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower” vs Dylan’s humble acoustic original (Dylan admitted he wished he’d recorded it like Jimi’s version in the first place). And there’s no doubt CSN’s voices have a distinctiveness that Steel Train’s vocalists lack. But the cover has a crispness and a richness–and perhaps a bit more of a country rock feel (think: Poco’s “Crazy Love”) which makes it a nice listen. And even if it only serves to recreate that epiphany moment when the song came fresh to your ears, that’s a pretty good reason for any good cover song to exist.

Songs You May Have Missed #471

zombies

The Zombies: “I Love You” (1965)

Unimaginative title. Pretty cool song. In 1965 the Zombies first releasedI Love You as a B-side to A-side “Whenever You’re Ready” (which peaked at #110 in the UK and not at all in the US, which is why you’ve probably never heard either one). It was released again, this time as an A-side, in ’68. But it came a little late–the group had already disbanded. That same year a California band called People released a version that, while also intended as a B-side, became their only Top 40 hit when it went to #14.

The Zombies’ version features some cool staccato acoustic guitar strumming and a jazzy Rod Argent keyboard solo very similar to the one on their massive 1964 hit “She’s Not There”. I believe it would have been a hit had they released it as an A-side in the first place. Instead it’s a real lost gem.

People’s version isn’t a bad effort either–it lacks Colin Blunstone’s breathy vocals but does have a similar jazzy break and a long, strange, trippy intro.

John Lennon’s Raw, Soul-Baring Vocals From the Beatles’ ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ (1969)

(Source: Open Culture)

“When you’re drowning,” John Lennon told Rolling Stone in 1970, “you don’t say, ‘I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me.’  You just scream.”

“Don’t Let Me Down” is Lennon’s anguished scream to his lover, Yoko Ono. When he and the Beatles recorded the song during the Let It Be sessions in late January of 1969, Lennon asked Ringo Starr to hit the cymbal very hard at the beginning, to “give me the courage to come screaming in.”

The Beatles were in the process of breaking apart when Lennon wrote the song. It was a dark time in my ways, and he was becoming more and more dependent upon Ono for personal and creative support. As Paul McCartney told writer Barry Miles in Many Years From Now:

It was a very tense period: John was with Yoko and had escalated to heroin and all the accompanying paranoias and he was putting himself out on a limb. I think that as much as it excited and amused him, at the same time it secretly terrified him. So ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ was a genuine plea, ‘Don’t let me down, please, whatever you do. I’m out on this limb, I know I’m doing all this stuff, just don’t let me down.’ It was saying to Yoko, ‘I’m really stepping out of line on this one. I’m really letting my vulnerability be seen, so you must not let me down.’ I think it was a genuine cry for help.

You can get a strong sense of Lennon’s anguish and vulnerability when you listen to the isolated vocal track above. And for the full arrangement, including Starr’s cymbal-crash near the beginning and Billy Preston’s brilliant electric piano playing, see below.

Songs You May Have Missed #470

flyte cd

Flyte: “Over and Out” (2013)

Infectious but hard to categorize, Flyte certainly have a bit of 80’s New Wave in them–but the good kind. A little Cars mixed with a little Talking Heads perhaps.

Still unsigned, the London band’s self-released debut EP is due September 16.

flyte

Songs You May Have Missed #469

kinks

The Kinks: “Sitting in the Midday Sun” (1973)

Ray Davies’ charmingly unambitious vignette (taken from Preservation, his most ambitious musical project).

Who needs a job when it’s sunny?

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2015/02/27/songs-you-may-have-missed-524/

Songs You May Have Missed #468

sonoride

Sonoride: “A Little Green Park” (2009)

Stockholm, Sweden’s Sonoride have digested the sounds of ELO and the Beatles circa 1967 and what they’ve regurgitated in the form of the semi-psychedelic Multi Colour Dream mostly sounds like a synthesis of the two.

All except “A Little Green Park”, which is more of a straight-ahead pop song than most of the album, a celebration of the simple joys of a trip to a favorite park–a place where “the sun never seems to be off duty…and some soothing scent is always somehow present.”

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