Sometimes cover versions aren’t so bad. They can add a dimension to a song that didn’t exist in the original. The best example was Johnny Cash’s cover of the Nine Inch Nail’s tune “Hurt.” Cash’s weary voice and the sparse arrangements was infinitely better than the emo-like and overly produced original. Frankly, I don’t think ballads ever really translated well to industrial metal in the first place.
And some covers come completely from left field.
Just this past week, I received a text message from a friend (aka “Your Humble Blogger”, naturally) saying she was currently entranced in William Shatner’s cover of Pulp’s iconic “Common People” while browsing for books (obviously). Maybe I was among a minority of die-hard Pulp fans – but I never knew such a thing existed (slaps himself in disgrace)!
Immediately, I turn to one of my co-workers (who sports these mutton chop 70s trucker porn sideburns) and ask if he’s ever heard of it. To my mild disbelief, he had. (Didn’t even know he listened to Pulp…or William Shatner!) He simply encouraged me to head straight to the almighty for a fix: youtube.
The result? 4:42 of sheer twistedness…and, and, pleasure.
Shatner plays up Jarvis Cocker’s already deadpan delivery as the instrumental track works in overdrive–sped up, as if someone in the arrangement booth accidentally hit the f.f. button. And when Shatner sings, “You really want to sleep with common people like me?,” he sounds absolutely baffled as the choir-like children’s chorus kicks in at the end.
The original is the original and near perfect – but this cover was enjoyable in its own right. (It, ahem, went where no Pulp cover had gone before.)
If you were among the minority, like me just a week ago, and haven’t heard Shatner’s take on a Pulp classic, please check it out.
Also, check out Nick Cave’s version of Disco 2000, while we’re at it on those Pulp covers.
Esteban Miguel writes C.V.S., a bi-weekly column on poor music taste, published on Monday. For any previous Columns on Shit, gander away.