Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Covering #BlackLivesMatter

This past month I tweeted out four song covers honoring #BlackLivesMatter. Here are some notes from each song.

"Wake Up" performed by Brass Against with Sophia Urista (original: Rage Against the Machine). This great song is a warning and wake up call for those agitating for change. The cover goes toe-to-toe with the original. Lots of credit goes to all those brass instruments, but especially to the charismatic singer who punches the chorus in an eloquent scream.

"41 Shots" performed by Living Colour (original: Bruce Springsteen). This is a song Springsteen wrote about the 1999 shooting of Amadou Diallo in New York City. The police union there decried the song at the time, with some reporting suggesting they hadn't even heard it. Bruce's version is a fine example of his unquestioned relevance, but Living Colour's version is sad, spare, and powerfully personal.

"Blackbird" performed by Alicia Keyes (original: The Beatles). Paul McCartney, who sang the original, has said this song about a black bird with a broken wing is about the American Civil Rights movement. The imagery from the lyrics suggest a rising up from something that hasn't done so before. McCartney's version is spare. Ms. Keyes' version is more soaring, giving air under those wings, willing it to fly.

"Southern Man" performed by Merry Clayton (original: Neil Young). There's no mistaking Neil Young's lyrics above that brooding beat and crackling guitar solo: "Southern Man, when will you pay them back?" Merry's version feels hipper but no less serious. She's demanding respect with her delivery. Neil's version is an outsider's scold, Merry's is a fervent demand.

No comments:

Post a Comment