In a post last week, I talked about Time for Three. They play tunes you don’t expect classical musicians to, like The Beatles’ “Blackbird” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” They also do mashups, where Grieg’s Holberg Suite morphs into Led Zeppelin and Justin Timberlake (and goes back too – a neat trick).
Now, playing other people’s music well is not easy – anyone who’s heard a third-rate band ruining their favorite song at a frat party knows that all too well. But these guys bring the same level of artistic integrity to their covers that they do to the Bach Double Concerto.
Check out tf3’s version of “Little Lion Man”, and compare it to the original by Mumford and Sons. I like tf3’s version even better, and that leads us to our new playlist – music that’s been “covered” and arguably improved.
Bach did this all the time, taking pieces by Vivaldi and other composers, and making them his own. Ravel (along with Emerson, Lake and Palmer) did much the same thing with Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.” Jimi Hendrix did it too – Bob Dylan stopped performing his own song “All Along the Watchtower” once he heard Hendrix’s version – high praise indeed. Ray Charles was a master of this. Miles Davis, too – check out his “Someday, My Prince Will Come” on the playlist.
Sometimes these reworkings aren’t so successful – Mahler’s re-orchestrations of Beethoven’s symphonies don’t get played much. Shostakovich re-worked the Schumann Cello Concerto, to no one’s approval I’m aware of. Here’s a list from Rolling Stone of some pretty bad ones from the rock world – I vote for William Shatner’s rendition of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”
So, what’s your favorite cover, or your least? Classical, rock, r&b, country – whatever. Post your favorites to the comments and add the music to the playlist – both the original and “improved” versions if possible!