Here we have three versions of the same song by three different artists. The three versions of the song are all very different and as such, elicit very different moods. Clayton’s electric guitar-drenched original sounds almost triumphant, while The Highwaymen do a pretty straightforward country rendition. My personal favorite is the most recent version, sung by the nonpareil Cat Power (real name Chan Marshall). Ms. Power’s version evokes the sadness of the classic ramblin’ song. Her voice sounds as if she’s spent a few too many late nights drinking whiskey and smoking cigarettes, and she woke up early one morning singing this song with a sleepy, hungover resolve to make a change in her life.
I have a thing for female singers with smoky voices, and Ms. Power is my current favorite. I discovered her just recently, after seeing her eccentric, mesmerizing performance on Letterman. Shortly after watching that performance several times over (thanks to TiVo) I picked up her Jukebox album, which is a curious collection of covers ranging from “Silver Stallion” to Kander and Ebb’s “New York, New York” to Dylan’s “I Believe in You” along with a few of Ms. Power’s own songs, including a great re-working of “Metal Heart” from her 1998 album Moon Pix.
Ms. Power has a penchant for doing a lot of odd covers and making them all her own. Jukebox is her second covers album, the first being 2000’s aptly titled The Covers Record. In addition to having a terribly sexy voice, Ms. Power has a pretty interesting story as well. This 2006 New York Times article (in addition to this blog post, of course) offers a nice introduction to the world of Cat Power.
Posted By Adam