16
Jul 02

More on covers:

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 491 views

More on covers: I know what Tom is getting at below, but I think he has allowed himself to step out of the realms of the subjective when he tried to explain the difference between oft cover standards and specific covers. The obvious difference to me is the oft-coveredness of the standard is more likely to create the ur-cover, this composite which in the mind may be made up of the best bits to the individual. There are parallels here to language theory and especially Wittgenstein trying to define what a game is. What does a cover need to still be considered a cover version. Is an instrumental version of Eleanor Rigby a cover? How about the lyrics sung to a different tune – see Tricky’s version of Black Steel (and bootlegs). In the end what makes it a cover is the recognizance that it is a cover by the listener, and often that will come about because we have been told in advance that it is a cover, be it the track name, the writing credit, a DJ or MP3 filename. Which then brings us to the point on influence – influence which is as much in our mind as the performers.

Tom says that none of the versions of ‘Send In The Clowns’ need to exist for the others to exist. I disagree – if only for him personally. For him to be so interested in the song there has to be a version which exists, a version which exists to Tom which then interested him enough to find another version. This chain is not necessary for all the performers, they may just be given the track after all, but for Tom to split this kind of song from a song written specifically for someone misunderstands the songwrting process. I do not think there is any objective difference between how Autobahn exists and how Send In The Clowns exists, except for in how the individual perceives it. To Tom there is a favourite but no definitive performance of ‘Send In The Clowns’ wheras he suggests that the Kraftwerk ‘Autobahn’ is definitive. (Okay, reading again he does give himself a subjective get out but I’m not going to delte this now).

I just want to challenge Tom on being able to hear his ur-Send In The Clowns in his head. Can he really, because I can do that nop more than I can hear Kraftwerk’s Autobahn in my head. Tom, like all of us revisiting songs in our head are missing out on the greatest cover band of all time after all, our own imagination augmented memories.

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