Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 257
Wednesday, Sept 26, 2012
Cat Power is not your average modern day chanteuse. Chan Marshall believes in the tradition of honoring songs by covering them as lyrical tributes. One of Cat Power’s most popular albums 2008’s Jukebox gets overlooked for the fact it’s an album full homages to some of her favorite songs that literally saved her life. Want to find a quick way to upset Chan Marshall, all you have to do is disregard 2008’s Jukebox LP and ask Cat Power why it took so long to record her follow up top 2006’s The Greatest. This is what Chan told Huffington Post when they inquired, “Well, here’s the thing about that: even with classical music hundreds of years ago, people always played covers. From folk to tribal to Cab Calloway, Cole Porter, Gershwin to the Rolling Stones, whose first record was all covers, to country-western, bebop, blues, and even the referencing in classic hip hop to clichéd love ballads of the 80s or whatever — that is kinda gone, and that’s just terrifying to me. My last album was [the 2008 covers collection] “Jukebox,” and I don’t understand why everyone’s like, “Your last album [“The Greatest,” which featured all original songs] was six years ago, and what took you so long?” It’s like, Well, I busted my ass recording and touring a record called “Jukebox,” and I’ve never been happier recording a record or playing a record before. But it’s an inexcusable thing these days.”
Chan’s right you know, Jukebox is one Cat Power’s better recordings in fact; I believe it’s far superior to The Greatest. But then I’m kind of biased, I did see Cat Power live during her Jukebox show at The Hollywood Bowl with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. So many good covers but my favorite has to be Chan’s rendition of James Brown’s “Lost Someone.” Marshall perfectly captures the essence of the longing when you actually lost someone. Chan mirror’s the ache in James Brown’s original by seducing us with her breathtaking vocal.
Unbeknownst to some, Cat Power doesn’t just cover classic songs; she embraces them as her voice magically becomes the lyrics, the chorus and refrain of desire, first brought to life by James Brown. Marshall described her philosophy on the art of the cover song when she said, “The idea of doing a cover song today is usually about novelty or some marketing gimmick. But actually interpreting songs—that’s part of the thread work of the history of music. It’s tradition. When people complain about hip-hop— “Oh, they just copy someone else and it’s the same thing over and over . . .” No, it’s the same shit that we’ve been doing since people first started making songs, whether it be country or jazz or whatever. Everybody has always sung everybody else’s songs. It’s about the song. I don’t care if someone else wants to sing my damned songs. You know, if Bob Dylan hadn’t covered “The Moonshiner,” I would never have heard it or played it. If Eric Burdon hadn’t covered “House of the Rising Sun,” I wouldn’t have ever discovered it or probably have ever sought out the Dylan version. So I hate it when people complain about me doing so many covers. It’s part of a tradition. It’s a part of the craft.”
More than just a vocalist, Chan Marshall is a multifaceted chanteuse. Cat Power’s cover songs become an intimate reflection of her lyrical persona making the best song from 2008’s Jukebox is a heartfelt tribute to The Godfather of Soul—James Brown. I selected “Lost Someone” to honor our little kitty Lucy, It’s been a month and we are still feeling the gaping hole of her passing. We miss you, little girl, more than you will ever know. I hear “Lost Someone” as homage to our now deceased little kitty Lucy. It’s been a month, today, and we are still feeling the gaping hole of her passing. We miss you, little girl, more than you will ever know.