Sunday, 9 March 2008

When I was only twelve...

In an improbable wander through the performing arts, Scarlett Johansson is to record an album of Tom Waits' covers. Perhaps I lack imagination, but I can't quite picture her singing about Lucky Strikes, Mexican whorehouses or, for that matter, heart attacks (with or without the vine) with any real conviction. Which leads me to guess that she is making an album of Waits' ballads, not this stuff.....



There is a very fine line between emotionality and sentimentality, and I have never heard a cover of a Tom Waits' ballad that didn't make me want to weep with despair at the very awfulness of it. I am thinking Rod Stewart's drivelling attempt at Downtown Train (a song the NME described as 'the best song that Springsteen never wrote') or even Springsteen's ludicrously saccharine cover of Jersey Girl. Johannsson, step away from the project now, please, and save us all the embarrassment.

In an almost seamless link, this reminds me of a conversation Stray and I had recently about the best ever cover of Dylan's All Along The Watchtower. My favourite is undoubtedly this cover by XTC, circa 1978 when they were at the vanguard of post-punk pop. 





Which brings me, tangentially, to the point of this mostly meaningless post. Which is simply to say out loud that I discovered this on YouTube recently and it made me want to jump around like the 12 yr old that I was when I first heard it. If ever I am stranded on Roy Plumley's desert island, it would be a very close call between this and the Lacrimosa from Mozart's Requiem as my number one choice. Both make me want to cry  (but not in the same way as a whole album dedicated to massacring  the back catalogue of one the twentieth century's best singer songwriters.)


Bloody fab, isn't it?

What makes you wish you were 12 again?

10 comments:

trousers said...

I quite like this randomness Ms M - has to be done sometimes I feel.

I've been lucky enough not to hear any Tom Waits covers (except Rod's, which you mention). I've no aversion to the idea of covers of TW songs...but Scarlett Johansson? Oh dear...

For what it's worth my current fave TW track is "Top of the Hill," first track from Real Gone. As regards what makes me wish I was 12? Well although I was more like 11 or 10 at the time, what immediately sprang to mind was "Reward" by The Teardrop Explodes.

Ms Melancholy said...

Hi there trousers - couldn't agree more. Reward was a fabulous song, from one of my favourite albums of the era. Julian Cope is just about the only person who can carry off a flying jacket with aplomb. I might pop off to YouTube now for a touch more nostalgia.

trousers said...

I remember Reward being announced on the radio years after, as a track about to be played: I suddenly got excited, then I thought, what if it doesn't sound good anymore? I was bracing myself for disappointment and, guess what? It was as fantastic as it ever was, if not more so.

Shameless claim to fame time, I met JC last year too. He was wearing a huge peaked cap over his shades and what is once again a big shaggy mane of hair.

Böbø said...

Randy California did a rather spiffy 12inch version of Watchtower that can still move the Prog Rock side of my soul.

As for 12, I never ever want to be that age again, thank you!

Ms Melancholy said...

Hey trousers, shameless claims to fame are always welcome! I am both impressed and jealous, - did you get to speak to him?

As for the enduring quality of the Teardrops, they always make it on to my nostalgia compilations and I think sound as edgy as they ever did.

Hi there Bobo, Randy California is such a fantastic name, I may have to YouTube him. I think Watchtower lends itself very well to a funky mix - indeed, the XTC version is pretty damn funky as far as I'm concerned. Sorry to hear about the burglary, btw. Only just picked up on that this morning. Big hugs to you.

Böbø said...

He got the name from Jimi Hendrix when he was a member of his band - so who is not going to use that! But he was so young his mum and dad wouldn't let him travel to Britain and so missed out on being part of the Jimi Hendrix Experience tour.

Misssy M said...

These days I am on the radio but only as a contributor in a very small way. Recently the controller phoned me and asked me if I might want to one day have my own show and maybe I could learn the ropes...Coooool, I thought. I said "Yes please" and made a mental note that if it ever comes to fruition that I will definitely sneak in a Tom Waits track in my first show. Fingers crossed.

trousers said...

Hi Ms M, yes I did get to speak to him, albeit briefly. I was helping out at a music festival, and it was basically to point him in the direction of food.

Nothing more than that I'm afraid :)

Ms Melancholy said...

Thanks for that little gem bobo!

Hey Missy M, can we have a vote on your blog as to which track it is you have to sneak in? Please?

Hi there trousers, so you didn't try to snog him then? Shame.

trousers said...

No I didn't Ms M! And any further potential for conversation was swiftly curtailed by a rather overwhelmed lady who started talking to him as soon as I'd finished answering his question. Which is probably just as well since by this point it was about 1.30am and I wasn't all that sober...