Covering the 80s

October 19, 2011 § 8 Comments

As October is the month of my birthday, I often grow a bit nostalgic this time of year for the 1980s, my decade of birth, even though I was too young to have known it well. I just have hazy memories of jelly shoes, stirrup pants, big pony tails and creepy Jim Henson movies, memories which usually shut up nostalgia pretty quickly.

Nonetheless, I do have some guilty pleasure songs from the 80s, partly fueled by a former roommate who would unabashedly burst into “Time After Time” in our horribly painted red, orange, and yellow kitchen – a throwback not from the 80s, but the previous renters.

Yes, we lived and sang here.

Today I’m merging the past and the present with a few songs from the 80s covered by indie artists, many of which are better for the revision in my opinion.

“Beat It” (1983) by Michael Jackson covered by Pomplamoose. Of course there’s going to be a Michael Jackson song on this list, and who better to match his energy than the quirky Pomplamoose duo?

“Higher Love” (1986) by Steve Winwood covered by James Vincent McMorrow, who manages to strip this upbeat, funky pop song to its acoustic skeleton and reconstruct it from there, as he does even with his cover of Willow Smith’s, “Whip My Hair,” which he makes impossibly mellow.

“Addicted to Love”  (1986) by Robert Palmer covered by Florence + the Machine. Robert’s version is the type sung in a sleazy bar; Florence’s opening could go in a horror flick the moment the girl stupidly goes outside to see what’s wrong.

“Sweet Child o’ Mine” (1987) by Guns N Roses covered by Taken By Trees, a song translated from American hard rock to Swedish indie folk. It’s like night and day, jellies and Toms shoes, stirrup pants and skinny jeans, Jim Henson and the Coen brothers.

“The One I Love” (1987) by R.E.M. covered by Rosie Thomas. This one’s my favorite. I enjoy R.E.M. as a great rock band, but Rosie quietly takes this love song and infuses it with the intimacy, longing, and simplicity that the original lacked.

A nod to past and present musicians.

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