Posts Tagged ‘Everything But The Girl’

‘It’s A Thin, Thin Line . . .’

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

While looking for tunes with “rest” in their titles this morning, I came across several entries for the song “Tougher Than The Rest” by Bruce Springsteen. Now, that’s not the kind of rest I had in mind, but it’ll do for today.

The song comes from Springsteen’s 1987 album, Tunnel of Love, and it’s sparked a few covers. I dug into some of those this morning – not as many as I usually sample when I’m exploring covers – and found some interesting versions. Emmylou Harris included the tune on her 1990 album, Brand New Dance, and I saw some commentary this morning that ranked her version higher than others, so I went and bought the mp3, which I evidently can’t share in a video.

Well, I liked what I heard from Emmylou more than I did most of the covers I found. I was surprised by the tepid version from Everything But The Girl on that group’s Acoustic from 1992, as I generally like the album. And I didn’t hear much in the seemingly standard country styling from Chris LeDoux on his 1994 album Haywire. On the other hand, I did enjoy the version released on a two-song disc in 2009 by the Scottish group Camera Obscura.

As it turned out, the best version of the Springsteen tune I came across today is from a source that surprised me. Travis Tritt pulled the song into his hybrid of southern rock and Nashville twang on No More Looking Over My Shoulder in 1998, and the results were pretty good:

I’ll be back Thursday, either writing about Chef Boy-Ar-Dee or about covers of one of the greatest songs ever recorded by The Band.

‘I Can Tell By Your Eyes . . .’

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

As I was wasting time on Facebook last evening, I posted – for no particular reason except I like the song – a link to a video of Everything But The Girl’s recording of “I Don’t Want To Talk About It” from 1988.

The video played as I posted the link, and as Tracey Thorn eased her way through the tune, I thought to myself that I needed to dig into the tune’s genesis. I knew about Rod Stewart’s version from Atlantic Crossing, and I thought I had a couple of other versions in the files, but where had the song come from?

I figured it was something I should know – or maybe something I’d learned a while back and forgotten. If it was the latter – if I’d forgotten – I also figured I’d be at least a little chagrined when I was reminded of what I’d forgotten.

So I clicked a few links, and – as it turned out – I wasn’t chagrined. I just felt stupid.

The song was written, of course, by the late Danny Whitten, a member of Crazy Horse and a friend to not only Neil Young but also to Bobby Jameson, whose career I’ve written about numerous times (and with whom I still share emails and Facebook messages and links). If I’ve never known the origins of the song, I should have. The tune was included in 1971 on Crazy Horse’s self-titled album:

But as I listened to Crazy Horse’s version of the tune – the original version, as it were – I knew I’d heard another version. I searched the RealPlayer and found nothing, which didn’t make sense. I knew I had another version of the tune in the files. Puzzled, I went to All-Music Guide to see who else had covered the tune.

As I knew he would be, Rod Stewart was listed. His version was released as a single in late 1979 and went to No. 46. (I find the four-year gap between the release of Atlantic Crossing in 1975 and the release of the single a little odd.) Others listed as having covered the tune were Rita Coolidge, Ian Matthews, Nils Lofgren, a U.K. singer named Dina Carroll, Steve Brookstein (who was the first winner of the television contest Pop Idol in the U.K.), and a few other names.

The Matthews listing intrigued me, as I have a fair amount of his music from his time in Fairport Convention, in Matthews Southern Comfort, in Plainsong, and under his own name. The album he released in 2000 with Elliot Murphy, La Terre Commune, is one of my favorite albums (though with all the music in the nooks and crannies here, it gets less play than it should). On that album, Matthews’ first name was presented as “Iain,” so I searched for the tunes I have under that name.

And I found the version of the tune I’d been recalling, a live performance from 2001. It was listed, however, as “I Don’t Wanna Talk About It.” Using that spelling, I did some more searching. I found a good performance of the song by the Indigo Girls from the soundtrack to the film Philadelphia. And AMG informed me that Matthews had first recorded the song for his 1974 album Some Days You Eat the Bear and Some Days the Bear Eats You, which is one of the few Matthews’ albums from that era that I’ve not heard.

Others listed as recording the tune with the “Wanna” spelling were the pop group Smokie, performers named Michael Ball, Alexander Murray, Emmerson Nogueira and clarinetist Mr. Acker Bilk.

As I noted, I’ve not heard many versions of the song, but of those I have heard, I lean toward the Crazy Horse take as the definitive version. (I’ve never cared much for Stewart’s version.) Other than that, I enjoy the live version I alluded to earlier, the one that Murphy, Matthews and Olivier Durand recorded June 1, 2001, during a performance at the Cornish Pub in Solingen, Germany. It was released as a part of the Official Blue Rose Bootleg Series.