Covers and Remakes

I certainly enjoy hearing a cover of someone else’s song, but what really excites me is a group or an artist remaking a song in their own imagining.

One of the surest of tests is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.

T.S. Eliot

Interestingly, this is a reworking of a meme that goes back at least to 1892. Mature artists take something someone else did and make it their own, i.e. steal it. Joe Cocker did this with most of his hits, e.g. “With a Little Help from my Friends” when done by The Beatles is a mid-tempo pop song, by Joe Cocker, it’s a slow blues or lament.

“Into the Mystic” has wondrously ambiguous lyrics. I enjoyed hearing the original. It’s ever better when done by more mature artists, e.g. the Allman Brothers Band. Even more fun is a re-working is a different style, e.g. Greensky Bluegrass’s bluegrass version. Watching the video, it’s clear they are reworking a number of aspects, bluegrass with fog machines, solid body electric upright bass, and a lead singer that looks like he’s living on the street. This is not Bill Monroe’s bluegrass.

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