Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Take Cover: So Won't You Be Fair?

Elliott Smith, "Trouble" (Cat Stevens)

I've been on an Elliott Smith kick a mile wide lately, showing perhaps not much progress since last week's somber and loveliest ballad, but if there's anyone that can most adeptly balance so-sad-you-smile with a structured and appealing sound, it's Smith. He's also a master of the live cover (check out the complete set here), though this one was studio recorded for the film Thumbsucker and has a high quality hazy, dreamy sound.

This song feels like the late Smith himself could have written it; it was the blueprint for "Fond Farewell" sonically or "Coast to Coast" lyrically, about 33 years earlier, scrawled by a hospitalized Cat Stevens recuperating from tuberculosis at the shockingly young age of 19.

"I don't want no more of you / so won't you be kind to me" has a distinct echo in Smith's "I've got no new act to amuse you." And, as one of the last songs Smith recorded before his death, it pays pretty high tribute to Stevens' work. All I'm saying is, it would be pretty great if Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam?) returned the favor. He might be one of the few artists that could vocally cover Elliott Smith closely enough, without totally emulating his exact same style.

-- Caroline Klibanoff


fiona said...

this cover is so perfect because, like you said, it really seems like elliott smith could have written it...my favorite elliott smith cover still is and remains this, though trouble is a close second. job well done AGAIN caroline, i love this feature

TRB said...

This is a lovely cover of an enduring melody that deserves the resurrection Smith gave it. I'm a late-comer to Elliott Smith, but am no less moved by his work or his early death. Coming upon talents like Elliott Smith or Eva Cassidy after they're gone leaves me remarkably sad, but heightens my appreciation for them. And it tempts me to delve even deeper into their lyrical and vocal expressiveness, in my own search for their meaning.

I love this blog!