… but I digress

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Cover Battle – “In My Life” – Pt 1 April 4, 2014


I found a bunch of covers for this song, so I’m breaking this into two separate posts. Feel free to peruse them at your leisure.




The song “In My Life“, mostly written by John Lennon (but attributed to Lennon-McCartney) and originally performed by The Beatles is one of their classic, well-loved songs. It’s a simple song with so much feeling to it, that really showcases the wonderful craftsmanship and talent of the writer(s) and performers. It’s wistful, nostalgic, a little peppy, and infinitely singable all at the same time. It’s also been covered by quite a few artists.


In a live concert Dave Matthews does the song as a beautiful, heartfelt and loving, reverential tribute to John Lennon. He really connects with the audience and the spirit of the song. His performance may be one of the best covers out there.


Ed Sheeran did his version on a televised special celebrating the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles’ first performance on The Ed Sullivan Show. I think he does a really great job.


Bette Midler did the song on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Towards the end you can see her so overcome with emotion that her voice breaks. I had originally thought this was from Carson’s last show as host in May of 1992, but if was actually from her November 1991 appearance. Six months later, she, along with comedian Robin Williams, would be one of the last guests on Johnny’s show.


As befitting the self-described Prince of Darkness, the cover by Ozzy Osbourne is appropriately creepy sounding. Yet it’s not so creepy that it’s off-putting. It just sounds a bit metal; like Ozzy.


The 60’s group The Seekers give us their take. It’s okay; not something I’d “seek out” again. (Ha-ha – see what I did there?). It just makes the song sound really generic and forgettable, like something placid you’d hear at the dentist’s office to keep you calm while the Novocain takes its hold. Very blah.




Cover Battle – “Skylark” January 10, 2014


Skylark” is an old jazz standard that’s considered “popular music”. Not today’s kind of popular music, but back-in-the-day popular music. It’s time for full disclosure here: I hate this song. Even before I started doing cover battles I had heard a couple of different versions by different artists in different styles. Never liked any of them. Until I found one that didn’t make me scowl and roll my eyes. More on that a little later.


Now, why do I hate this thing? Well, let me tell you. I think the song just meanders on and on and on. A few words in I stop paying attention and just wait for it to be over. Regardless of my appreciation for the artist singing, it’s not a composition I care about. Then, maybe last year, I think, I saw that there was a version by … Bobby Darin. I was nervous, because I adore Bobby Darin and I didn’t want to have to hate anything he thought worthy of covering. Silly, I know, but that was my feeling.


I still don’t care for the song itself, but Bobby’s is the only version I’d willingly listen to. And it’s not just because his version is much shorter (although that helps). Now the backstory is kinda interesting/icky/scandalous: It was co-written by Johnny Mercer to express his longing for a (young) woman he had an affair with – Judy Garland! He was 30 (and married) and Judy was only 18 and had just starred in The Wizard of Oz the year before. Hmmm, now I’m getting a little skeeved out. Might not be listening to Bobby’s version (or any other version) for awhile. But I digress … (Ha-ha. See what I did there? … ‘Cuz the blog’s name is “… but I digress”? No? Fine, I’ll move on.)


So, the first version I heard was Cassandra Wilson so, of course, the song seemed even longer than it probably is. It’s on her fabulous New Moon Daughter album. I like everything else on it, except this one.


Next we have the legendary Aretha Franklin. You’d think I’d love the Queen of Soul. But nope, nope. Didn’t help.


The song was originally recorded by Anita O’Day. It’s jazzy and a touch more uptempo than subsequent versions. It doesn’t drag on forever, which is a bonus. There are nice brassy horns, which I like, and would listen to again, but there’s not enough of them and the record ends just after that.


Bette Midler (with arranger Barry Manilow on piano) makes the song almost unrecognizable. Is it good, is it bad? I don’t know. But it still doesn’t help.


kd lang is another artist that I just want to love all of their stuff and I think this might be another version that transcends my dislike or “ugh”- ness with this song.


Linda Ronstadt’s collaboration with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra is really flowery and rambles around. It’s retro and full and really makes me question my attention span. And patience.


Finally we get to Bobby. Like I said earlier, I don’t like the song itself, but I can genuinely say I have an enjoyable experience while listening to it. For this song, I think that’s the best you can hope for.





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