Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Anatomy of a Mixed Tape, Track the First

  1. Thunder Road—Badly Drawn Boy*
It's an accepted fact that classic songs, the best-loved songs, are hard to cover. Songs that have been implanted deeply into the minds of the general public, well ... people don't like you messing with them. The only way around this is if one radically reinvents the song in question (e.g., Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," covered by Hendrix).

"Thunder Road" is one of these. And Badly Drawn Boy figured out how to cover it properly: by reimagining it from the ground up, totally turning it inside-out, taking a single note of its complex emotion and extrapolating that out into something new.

If Springsteen's original of "Thunder Road" was like a souped-up muscle car, this Badly Drawn Boy version is like that same muscle car, only 20 years old now and rusting on blocks in the front yard of this song's protagonist. The feeling's like the memory of a feeling, as the man in question sips a drink on his porch and contemplates the rusted-out vehicle as the sun's setting.

*Note—an iTunes link isn't available for this song, because it comes from a sort of obscure Springsteen tribute CD packaged with a couple years-old issue of Uncut magazine. Future posts will, where possible, contain links to iTunes.

1 comment:

Paulo said...


I just realized that someone I know (of) knows someone who's looking for interns at a huge music label...

I know you're not a student at present, but the writing has been exceptional lately, and I think a trip down the old academic road (if only for the purpose of landing a sah-WEET gig like this) might be worth it.

Drop me a line if you want more info.

You'd be perfect!