As a rule, I’m not particularly big on covers. Or, well, really, I am happy to listen to artists cover their favorite songs—but as a rule I’m almost always going to say that the original was “better.” This gets me into all sorts of twisted little arguments with folks who argue otherwise. This is fine. My view is that I add big weight to the person who wrote the thing. But, sue, I will always also appreciate an artist who can inhabit a song and give it their own twist. I can appreciate raw artistry of all types. By giving props to an originator, I don’t mean to detract from those who perform their own versions.
So, yeah, K.D. Lang’s Hallelujah is spine-tingling. And Jeff Buckley did the version a lot of people consider to be definitive. Are either “better” than Leonard Cohen’s? No, I think not. They are different. They each make me feel things in their own way, and in the end that difference is good. I love listening to all three. But I acknowledge none of them would exist without the first, and to me that matters.
Does any of this make sense?
Anyway, this is a way to say that I’d seen a link to a video that was a full remake of the Beatles “White Album” by Morgan James—who, again, is not someone I’d heard of before this popped up in my recs. The thumbnail looked interesting, though, just her in a pure white suit and a dark room. It was associated with other artists I like (I had been listening to the Allman Brothers first album, I think, when I saw it). As I do often, I shoved the link up to my tab bar for some time when I might get interested enough to listen to a few minutes. Eventually, as in this morning, I took a moment to check it out.
Yes, this is fun. As in delightful and surprising as well as just good.
It’s fun because it’s different. Or at least it wasn’t what I was expecting. Morgan James is a good interpreter, and to be clear, I really, really like several of her takes on these songs. The gender swap on some of the songs is fun and interesting, too. But what drew me in was the entirety of the presentation. I’d intended to let it play behind my writing (familiar songs are good for me to write too because they don’t make my mind twist up too much that my own words can’t flow). But after watching for just a few seconds, I realized had to watch this one closely. There’s art, you see? Meaning this is a multi-media presentation complete with real-time illustration provided by Noel Carey (instagram: @drawnbynoel).
So that’s what I did.
Watch, I mean.
Delighting in the way my brain constantly shifted focus from singer to illustrator, to the musicians. Yes, it’s going to take you some time to watch this. It is the White Album, after all. But it’s worth it. With each song I found myself smiling, or anticipating what was going to happen next. It was really hard to take my eyes off it.
Reading up further, the whole thing is a homage to the Beatles (naturally) and was released to celebrate the 50th year of the album’s existence.
Totally makes sense.
Add it up, and it qualifies for one of my Fun Things Of the Day.