Ignored Obscured Restored
Those of you that know me personally are aware that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, The Beatles. I’ve collected all their official releases and dozens of bootlegs that contain outtakes, alternate takes, and demos.
I have an iTunes playlist of Beatles covers that has thousands of versions of their songs. My playlist is totally indiscriminate. Some of the cuts are awesome – some pathetic. But I’ve collected them all – straight covers, and lots of variations including soul, country, classical, easy listening, big band, jazz, and bluegrass. I even have some Polka versions!
I really enjoy when an artist takes a Beatles tune and makes it their own. Especially if it is well played and well sung. Today’s SotW is an example of such – “Things We Said Today” by Dwight Yoakam.
Yoakam is a country artist, but his style is much closer to rock influenced honky-tonk than traditional Nashville country. At least that was true when he began his recording career in the mid ‘80s. (Today it seems like all the top country acts really play rock music with a twang.) Believe it or not, Yoakam actually shared a bill with the punk band Hüsker Dü in 1986! On his 2012 album 3 Pears, Yoakam enlisted the help of Beck to provide handclaps on “A Heart Like Mine.”
His cover of “Things We Said Today” is a terrific example of his melding of rock and country. The song has an inventive recurring riff that sets the tone for what’s to come. It’s heavier than the Beatles original. And it ends with a searing guitar solo.
On a side note, I have an interesting story about seeing Yoakam live. Back in the mid ‘80s, my wife was working for an ad agency in Boston when she was invited to a party to celebrate the launch of WBOS’s format change to country music. I was her guest. The party included live performances by some of the rising country artists of the day, including Reba McEntire… and Yoakam.
Boston wasn’t a hotbed for country music fans back then (and probably still isn’t) so the audience of radio and ad executives were more interested in the hors d’oeuvres and drinks than the music. But being the music nerd that I am, I walked (alone) up to the front of the stage and watched both artists perform. Even though I couldn’t claim to be a country music fan, I could tell that these were top quality musicians and deserved to be heard. It was a great experience that is seared into my memory.
Enjoy… until next week.