Monday, June 07, 2004

But you don't really care for music, do you?

Oh, the things my subconscious can conjure up. A few nights ago, I had a dream in which I was marrying Ryan Dunn from Jackass and Viva La Bam! Generally, this would be a strange enough dream on its own, but when you're as twisted as I apparently am, I guess there always has to be a little extra weirdness thrown in for good measure that may or may not inspire me to add specific tracks to this blog. Well, playing an electric violin (or was it a viola?) as I walked up the aisle in a gown reminiscent of that Madonna wore on the first MTV Awards was none other than a Velvet Underground-era John Cale. Uh, okay.

To celebrate Cale's appearance in my head, here are a few Cale-related covers for you all.

  • Mercury Rev "(I Keep a) Close Watch" (John Cale cover)
    This was a B-side to one of the "Little Rhymes" singles that I always thought sounded familiar, but which I couldn't place. A few months after wondering "how do I know this song?", I finally looked it up and saw that it was written and originally performed by Cale. D'oh. So much for my encyclopedic knowledge of music, eh?

  • Sugar Ray "Spinning Away" (Brian Eno & John Cale cover)
    You know, it kills me to say this since my hatred for Mark McGrath knows no bounds, but this is a pretty good cover. Of course, it helps when Brian Eno (who wrote and performed the original) is producing. Found on the soundtrack to the craptastic Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle The Beach, this track is a little brighter and poppier than the original and that's okay. That's what Sugar Ray do: They turn everything they touch into an accessible, competent, innocuous pop hit ready to be absorbed by the masses—their funk metal debut Lemonade and Brownies notwithstanding.

    Actually, just the other day I found myself wondering, "When are Sugar Ray gonna come along and bore us/drive us insane with another album full of catchy-but-predictable lyrics and hooks?" Then I remembered that they released an album last year—of which I'm only aware due to the "why'd they even bother it sounds exactly the same" cover of Joe Jackson's "Is She Really Going Out With Him" and which, as far as I can tell, made absolutely no real impact on anyone.

    Unrelated to Sugar Ray: The album from whence comes the original "Spinning Away," Brian Eno and John Cale's Wrong Way Up, which my friend Gerry introduced me to a few years back, has gone on to become one of my favorite albums released in the 1990s.

  • John Cale "Hallelujah" (Leonard Cohen cover)
    The little things confuse me. By the time I saw Shrek, I was aware that my sexy gay boyfriend Rufus Wainwright's cover of "Hallelujah" was on the soundtrack. But when I watched the scene that actually featured "Hallelujah," it was not Rufus' version at all. Instead it was my favorite version. The John Cale version, which I first heard when I purchased the Leonard Cohen tribute album I'm Your Fan when it came out in 1991. Yes, you heard right. This is my favorite cover of this song. Not Jeff Buckley's, not U2's, not Bob Dylan's, not Sheryl Crow's. You get the picture. There's just something extra sad and dark about this one. I'm still confused about the whole movie-versus-soundtrack phenomenon, but whatever. I'll take this song wherever I can get it.
  • 1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    I couldn't agree more re: John Cale's version of "Hallelujah" being the best. IMO I think it is better than even Cohen's version, which comes off as a smarmy gospel song.
    Glad to know there are others who agree with me.