Sunday, May 12, 2013

Nothing I believed when I was young turned out to be true. (Awesome Covers Of Already Awesome Songs)

This is a true story:

Not the song.  I don't know if that's true or not.  Just the story behind the song, which is:

I have always loved the song Modern Love,  by David Bowie.  I ave since I first heard it maintained that Modern Love is the #1 best rock and roll song ever recorded (by humans. I have no idea what aliens might have recorded).

Also: I have never actually known the lyrics to the song, as it turns out, which should not surprise anyone who is familiar with the Elefino joke. 

(The Elefino joke and my failure to understand it for decades is explained more fully here, and it says something about people, or the Internet, or aliens, maybe, that the explanation for that joke is the most popular post, ever, on my blog, beating out even Robbie Benson's underwear.)

(It says something about me that I have a post about Robbie Benson's underwear, and what it says, specifically, is that I have a wife who thinks Robbie Benson is a hunk.)

So the other day, I was reading an article, and the lyrics to Modern Love, the opening lyrics, were quoted in that article.

Here is what I always thought -- for nearly three decades-- Modern Love began saying:

I don't want to go out
Want to stay in
Get things done.

That did not exactly make sense, but it didn't exactly not make sense, either, and that was good enough for me, at the time.  I never really gave any thought to what the song said or what it meant or whether it was a happy or sad song or what.  I just liked it, you know?

Here is what Modern Love actually says:

I know when to go out
And when to stay in
Get things done.

So I was what, less than 1/3 right?

That changes, I think, the entire meaning of the song, from what I sort of assumed it was about (a guy who didn't want to go out but had to, probably because all this modern love made him) to what it actually appears to be about (a guy who can choose when to go out or not).

Which makes all the difference, because if you can control yourself in the face of all this modern love, then how powerful is the modern love, at all? Not very powerful, it would seem.

That revelation, that the song I loved for so long above all other songs -- yes, even above Faith, by George Michael, which has held onto #2 since it was released-- might not at all be the song I thought it was.  It's as though one day you wake up and your spouse has brown hair and all along you thought it was black hair, even if it's not like that at all.

Anyway, that got me to thinking about Modern Love and how other people might have interpreted it over the years.   And henceforth, here they are!

The Grey's Anatomy Cover:

Is Grey's Anatomy still on? The only funny thing that comedian Whitney ever said was a joke about how silly it is for guys to wear football jerseys when they watch the game; she compared it to women wearing scrubs while they watched Grey's Anatomy.

I was struck by how sad that cover of the song was, given how electrifying the original is.

The Israeli Rock Star (?) Cover Version:

I don't know who that guy is.  But he made the song sad, too. Is it possible I have been misconstruing this song my entire life? Is it really a sad song? 

I catch a paper boy
But things don't really change
I'm standing in the wind
But I never wave bye-bye

But I try
I try

There's no sign of life
It's just the power to charm
I'm lying in the rain
But I never wave bye-bye

That could go either way.  Sure, the singer/protagonist is standing alone in a barren postapocalyptic world where paper is blowing around in the neverending wind and rain, but he's not giving up (i.e., he's not waving bye-bye)

The Cover Band Version Of The Song:

They got that beginning part right, didn't they? I used to be somewhat skeptical of people who played in cover bands and bar bands and never made it big.  Why do they keep trying? I wondered, one time.  Then I remembered that I blog and self-publish my books, and I shut my mouth forever.  You keep going, cover bands.  Never wave bye-bye.

Let's keep this party going.

The version by that one band that made the song "Blue", I think?

That guy sounds like Boris Grebenshikov.  I hope I'm not the only person who remembers who Boris Grebenshikov is.  But I feel like I am.

Also: Turns out there is more than one band named "Eiffel," and this particular one is not the "Blue" one but the one that was "born from the Ashes of Oobik & The Pucks."  The next time I have to do a bio, I am going to say I was born from the ashes of Oobik & The Pucks.  That is too cool of a phrase to die away.

But I did like that version.

The version by a guy who did a whole week of David Bowie covers, apparently:

He says that's a different take but it seems that everybody thinks this song is sad.

Or maybe not everyone.

The "isn't Cursive one of those hipster bands I feel like I should know about but then I don't care to know about them" version:

That started out great, and stayed pretty great. In fairness, it's hard to stay as cool as a drumline beginning promises.

This next one promised to be the best.  Why? Because it was by a band called Pizza!, and if there is anything that has remained more constant in my life than my love for the song Modern Love, it is my love for Pizza, and exclamation points.  Let's listen:

The FingersCrossedThatThisLivesUpToThePromise Version:

That was beautiful.  I am crying tears of joy.*

*And I want some pizza.

Want to celebrate the weirdly optimistic-feeling sentiment that this post sets up?  Do it via t-shirt:


**guarantee not valid where it is not valid.


Andrew Leon said...

I don't know who Robbie Benson is.

But you're not doing covers of books... and skipping the part where we could be talking about the -covers- of books, that would just be weird. I'm trying to figure out how you'd do that, right now. I think I want to do a cover version of Jekyll & Hyde, now.

Briane P said...

Covers like "the front of the book"? Or as in "this is my take on this story?" I tried doing the latter with Homer's Oddity but I got bored.

Andrew Leon said...

"your take on the story"
I'm trying to think of how you'd do that as a cover, because the words kind of have to be the same. I guess that's what Steinbeck was doing with Mallory, though.

Briane P said...

To quote Lucille Bluth:

"I don't understand that last sentence and I won't dignify it with a response."

I think you can do a cover of a story simply by transplanting the characters or updating the language, etc. Movies are essentially covers of books, when they are made from books, that is.

There was a spree of those a few years back when people rewrote Anna Karenina and Hamlet and made them into that kid raising dogs and whatnot. And then there's hipster-baiting drivel like "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," which I think of as the Weird Al version of books.

Michael Offutt, "Johnny on the Spot" said...

Great comment you made on my blog regarding Bill Gates.

Your posts are always so deep. I enjoy how "Modern Love" became the impetus for so much more.

Briane P said...


I am a man of many thoughts, some of which are less inane than others.