Strange Brouhaha

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Covers week: Convergence

I think covers work best when they bring something new to the song, as with yesterday's Keali'i Reichel piece, or when the cover band truly makes a song its own, as with The Gourds' "Gin & Juice". In The Gourds' case, they turned a fairly downtempo rap into a blizzard of bluegrass intensity--they made it a bluegrass song, not just a rap cover.

So here's another example of convergence, this time between bluegrass and metal. Convergence pieces really work best when you have a mismatch of some kind between the source and the original, when you take what I'll call a non-virtuoso piece and turn it into something completely different. Where I think they don't work is when you take an already virtuoso performance and try to match it in a different genre.

As an example, all of the samples I've heard of Iron Horse doing bluegrass-style Metallica covers really don't work for me. They just don't match the sheer power of Metallica, and Metallica really are (or were) virtuosi, so in the end I think that Iron Horse takes a wrong turn somewhere, just beacuse they're trying to match power, speed, intensity and virtuosity.

This video is different. I don't want to say too much about it, because I want you to have the joy that I did of trying to figure out what they're covering. The original is a classic, but this sort of transcends it. The band, Hayseed Dixie, adds something that was missing in the original: a great solo break. It makes all the difference in the world. Just like The Gourds did, Hayseed Dixie has turned their source material into a new song.

Here's a great video for the original tune, performed by a bunch of puppet-show Barbie dolls. The song is a legitimate classic, and the band is incredible--I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression from what I wrote above.

I am kind of surprised, though, that neither video exploits the iconic image of this particular band's lead singer, who has a distinct stance on stage.


  • Speaking of bluegrass and metal, have you heard any of the David Lee Roth bluegrass Van Halen covers? I saw them doing something on Letterman a year or two ago. I thought it worked for a song; I don't know how the album would hold up.

    By Anonymous Josh, at 4:39 PM  

  • No--I wasn't aware of that. Interesting; I'll have to look it up.

    By Blogger Robert, at 10:31 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home