Sunday, May 16, 2010

Assonance. Consonance. Alliteration.

I wanted to try something to a slightly different beat (pun intended) for this entry. I am devoting this week to music and the reuse of songs or titles throughout a range of styles and periods. Now, I am the first to say that I am no musicologist, so I am not going to attempt to analyze one musician's remake of a given tune and try to derive greater meaning from it. No no no, this is simply a fun drill for me to demonstrate how, like in the "fine arts" (for lack of a better word) themes and ideas are constantly reused and reborn but at the same time are heralded for their avant-garde nature.

There are slightly different parameters with music, I am sure. But I have always wondered, at what point is a song no longer considered to be inspired by another or in the style of another and is simply a cover of another? What is a song's status when either lyrics or melodies (but not both) are borrowed by another artist? I combed through my iTunes library trying to find songs performed by many different artists, either in part or in entirety. I have pasted a selection of my findings below, with links to videos or audio clips so you, too, can hear the difference. But again I am no music aficionado and I am sure there are many that I leave out. Please feel free to add your own versions in a comment. Here we go.

Across the Universe: Probably one of the most covered songs and bands. Ever. Here is a little sampling of the original and two of the many covers.

The Beatles

Fiona Appple

Rufus Wainwright, Moby & Sean Lennon

La Marseillaise: The French national anthem chanté as it was meant to be, and then the controversial version by Monsieur Gainsbourg himself.

Version Normale

Serge Gainsbourg

Baby Love: Women across generations and race lines complaining about men.

Diana Ross & The Supremes

Kate Nash

Take a walk on the wild side: The original song and the beginning repeated in Tribe'sCan I kick it? Yes, you can!

Lou Reed

A Tribe Called Quest

Dancing With Myself: A new age bands version of this icon's classic.

Billy Idol

Nouvelle Vague

I can't get no satisfaction: A slowed down, almost melancholy take on the original hit.

Rolling Stones

Cat Power

Like a Virgin: The 2007 winner of Nouvelle Star (the French American Idol) Jazz remake of the classic by Madonna.


Julien Doré

Long Black Veil: Two different versions of this song--I am honestly not sure whose came first, if any, or if they both ripped it off of yet another rock giant of the time.

Johnny Cash

The Band

Lover I don't have to love: A female, yet equally emo, voice on this sad ballad.

Bright Eyes

Bettie Serveert

What a wonderful world: Three very different but all worthy (though I tend to favor the latter) takes on this up-beat number.

Paul Simon

Chris Daughtry

Louis Armstrong

You ain't goin' no where: Again, not sure whose came first--it seemed to be a huge trend during their era to take songs from one another. I like 'em both.

Joan Baez

The Byrds

You're gonna make me lonesome when you go: And last but not least, for our departure, Madeline Peyroux's jazzy remake of Bob Dylan's croaking.

Bob Dylan

Madeline Peyroux

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