They keep wanting me to sing that beautiful sad song, the one they know, over and over.
Sometimes, it’s one I wrote. Often it’s a cover: something lonesome by Hank Williams, that Beck tune off Sea Change with its gentle mid-tempo strumming … anything from Elliott Smith or Nick Drake ….
I like playing other artists’ songs, but mostly in my studio, on break from something I’m in the middle of making up. On stage, not so much. Who needs me when the originals are so, so good?
It’s simple: A cover artist never changed the world, or left a deep-enough mark. And I’m at that stage where I’m pretty sure that it could all disappear in a heartbeat if I don’t live and breathe an authentic story. My greater imperative as an artist is to challenge what came before and make something new.
Hmmm … there is that Radiohead song, the one I’ve reworked with a deft alt-country hand into my very own. It works in a way you wouldn’t think it would, or could for that matter. Yes, that one I’ll proudly play.