Someone sent me this video earlier.
It’s two young kids playing Smells Like Teen Spirit in a garage. They’re not that bad, all things (e.g. the absence of bass) considered, but (unsurprisingly) their version is about a million miles away from the tumbling molten ferocity of the real thing.
It got me reflecting on something we touched on briefly last week; tunes that should not be covered. There are some songs that are so perfectly nailed by their originators that there’s really no room for a re-imagining, no space for tribute. You don’t want to hear anyone else’s “take”, you just want them to back up and respect the real deal enough to leave it alone.
Partly, this can be a function of performance; it doesn’t matter who you are, you aren’t going to be able to perform God Save The Queen with the nerveless vim and absolute clarity of purpose that John Lydon brought to proceedings.
Partly, it can be to do with virtuosity – ain’t nobody ever going to play Voodoo Child (Slight Return) like Jimi.
And partly, it can be down to timing. A Change Is Gonna Come, in addition to being the greatest song ever recorded, is perfectly and absolutely of its moment, a perfect instant in history that cannot be reworked or repackaged without losing at least some of its original moral authority. Otis freaking Redding couldn’t lay a glove on it, so you really shouldn’t even try.
To be clear, I’m not talking here about songs that HAVE no good covers. I’m talking about songs for which there should NEVER be a cover. Songs so perfect that human beings should simply admire them from a distance.
I’m sure there are others. So are you. So name them below.