Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Take Cover: LA to NYC and Back

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, "Blind Love" (Tom Waits)

I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt like most people love Zoe Deschanel: shamelessly and with abandon. So naturally when I came across this gem, a casual home-recorded (yeah right... only because there's obviously a fully equipped studio in his home) version of Tom Waits' "Blind Love" off the quintessential 1985 album Rain Dogs, I was elated. But then came the fear. What if it was bad? What if he couldn't sing, or didn't get Waits' whole thing, and butchered the song like some other actors I could name? This could be tragic.

Well, fear not. Rain Dogs takes on New York blues from Waits' L.A.-born-and-raised standpoint, and guess what? Levitt, too, is originally from Los Angeles but went to Columbia for school and now lives in the Upper East Side. Too perfect. And though the clinking glass-and-swallow at the beginning is beyond cheesy, the rest of the song is gorgeous, perhaps-- dare I say it?-- better than the original. His voice is yearning and light, especially towards the end, and the harmonies are just ragged enough to retain Waits' rawness. The whole cover is summed up by its own aching line: "They say if you get far enough away / you'll be on your way back home." From Waits to Levitt, it's a closed circuit of young talent and broken hearts across one great big yawning country. Though Levitt does make one notable change: he switches "blue eyes" to "brown."

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