I saw Cat Power about 6 or 7 years ago perform here in Miami at the old I/O Lounge (now The Vagabond). She (Chan Marshall) performed maybe 2 or 3 complete songs during her hour and a half long on-stage breakdown. It was a bizarre thing to witness. My friends and I were big Cat Power fans and we’d heard some vague rumors about Marshall being a bit shy and awkward during performances, but we quickly realized those rumors were fairly downplayed. She started off alright, but quickly got distracted when she realized/decided that her guitar was out of tune. She asked for help from audience members and a couple of guys went up to help her out. It probably ate up about 30 minutes, the lot of them standing around trying to perfectly tune her guitar strings. Eventually I think she switched over to the piano and had a similar fit about that. She finally began to play again toward the end of her set, when the club actually began playing music over her to stop her from going on. It was pretty unfortunate since it seemed she had finally gotten into her zone. Still, the few songs she did perform to completion were fantastic. I would pay money to see her again.
“He War,” off the You Are Free album, was a tune I used to listen to over and over my senior year of high school. I don’t ever listen to enough Cat Power these days.
Since i’ve been on the road, my dreams have become more and more vivid, and almost always in some way related to travel. Towards the end of last night’s dream, during which I dreamt about catching a train from Kansas City to Denver, I kept hearing the song “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” as covered by Junip (Jose Gonzalez‘s amazing group). When I finally got on my computer, I had to listen to it and when I went to YouTube to share the song, I realized it was a cover of a Rage Against the Machine Song. Digging further still, I found that RATM weren’t even the original creators, but it was in fact a Bruce Springsteen original. Funny too, because yesterday I was having a conversation with my friend Toby/Adam about how I had never really given the Boss much of a chance and how the only songs I knew of his were “Born in the U.S.A.” and “Secret Garden” (thanks to Jerry Maguire). Anyway, the whole thing led me into this spiraling thought process about originals versus covers. And so was born the idea for Compare and Contrast!
Now I’ve known plenty of people to be of the mindset that an original song is always better than any remake, but other times i’ll hear people say the remake is way better. Today’s song, the first challenge, will be The Ghost of Tom Joad, which in my opinion is just an amazing song that I can’t exactly pick a winner for yet as every musician that has touched it has brought something very different to its essence. Here are all three versions for your listening pleasure:
Rage Against The Machine
So who would you say is the big winner of all three? Cast your votes now and give me some reasons why this particular rendition is your favorite!