Saturday, May 05, 2007

Discovered Uncovered

I Wanna Be Your Dog - Joan Jett

Freezer Burn/I Wanna Be Your Dog - Sonic Youth

This post is the beginning of a series in which I will be posting awesome covers. Most of them will hopefully be some what hard to come across, but the only guiding criteria is that they are awesome (he above picture is a drawing by Daniel Johnston, whose tribute album is the namesake for this post).

Ohmygodimmike challenged his co-bloggers to post covers last month after becoming enamored with Firewater’s Song’s We Should Have Written, and me and DJ have done cover-themed posts in the past (post a comment if you want any songs relinked). Covers are fascinating; on one level a simple form of flattery that gives the listener a grounding recognition when hearing something new. Beyond that though, they can be a sincere modernist reinterpretation, a beloved artifact from the cultural past being reconnected to and built off from through an act of revisiting, almost approaching artistic worship. Or, a cover can be a postmodern denial, a conscious severing of the past from the present and an attempted destruction of the linearity of cultural advancement or of any sort of artistic trajectory. Such a cover gives us a complete reworking of its material in such a way as to destroy any sanctity held by the original or its time and foreground or exploit its anachronisms.

The discerning line between these two ways of covering is of course very thin and blurred (and by no means consistent or exhaustive), and the deciding factors surely lie more in the artistic intent than in the songs covered themselves.

Basically I just love covers, because I think they’re awesome, and I’ll take any chance to post some of my favorites.

So here are two covers of one of the best songs Iggy and The Stooges every did; I Wanna Be Your Dog off their 1969 debut. Both versions are very sincere homages to a proto-punk cockrocker whose rebelliousness paved the way for the expansive rule-breaking of art rockers like Sonic Youth and Riot Grrrls like Joan Jett. Yet both covers interpret the material very differently (off the albums Confusion Is Sex and Up Your Alley, respectively). Anyway......enjoy.