Wednesday, July 13, 2011
A Musical Interlude
When I discovered that A Perfect Circle had covered my all-time favorite song, I had to listen to it. We'll get to the song itself in a moment. It comes from an album APC put out in 2004, Emotive, the bulk of which are covers. I am not now nor ever have been a huge fan of covers, but APC does justice to the songs by setting aside any attempt at idolatry, the links to the originals being merely title and lyrics. Musically and affectively, the songs are APC.
For example, would anyone believe this is Led Zeppelin's drum-heavy "When The Levee Breaks" if they didn't know the lyrics?
What relationship does the following have to Elvis Costello's frenetic sneer at cynicism, "(What's So Funny About) Peace Love And Understanding?"
Having listened several times to Billy and Maynard's rearrangement of Marvin Gaye, I think that, while it may be true as one commenter at YouTube said, APC has removed every bit of soul from the original, that may well be more than merely a demonstration of the musical limits of the band. The original was a crie de coeur, stemming from a series of letters Gaye had received from his younger brother serving in combat in Vietnam. Our times, on the other hand, cannot hear yet another voice screaming out their righteous anger. When someone known for their screaming, however, whispers what we all know to be the truth, doesn't that make us want to stop, turn the volume on everything else down, and hear what they have to say? Maynard's delivery on this song, so different from anything one could hear on a Tool record, the band's muted, musical delivery of the melody does the song justice by understanding not only what the song is, but how to deliver the message in a way that fits the times. Rather than a slavish devotion to the original arrangement, Billy Howerdel and the rest of the band have shown reverence for the spirit behind it by arranging it to suit our over-loud times. Since APC in thought to be yet another experimental heavy metal band, that so many of the arrangements are gentle, lilting, the lyrics delivered in that same suggestive (seductive?) manner, the surprise is compounded.
In short, A Perfect Circle have created a wonderful song. The original is what it is. Their version, however, is what it is, and both can be enjoyed and passed on because they both do what they are supposed to do, provide a musical platform for two very different prophetic voices to deliver their message to a world hungering for a word of truth.
And now, for some random fun . . .
Afraid of Everyone - The National
Face of Yesterday - Renaissance
When She Cries - Andy McKee
Tremolando - Steve Howe's Remedy
High Ideals - Elbow
Find the Time - Wakeman With Wakeman
Brandenburg Concerto #3, Movement 1 - Johann Sebastian Bach
Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream - King Crimson
Mystery - Indigo Girls
Car Hiss By My Window - The Doors