Riding - Sebadoh
From the "Beauty of the Ride" 7" single on Domino.
One of my all-time favorite covers, Sebadoh's melodic, indie rock version of Will Oldham's "Riding," was trapped on vinyl until a few weeks ago. I shared this as soon as I could.
Covering someone as self-conscious and aware of the possibilities of his own music as Oldham, may seem like a fool's errand. After all, Oldham recorded a couple fine and very different versions of the song. But Sebadoh's cover also makes good sense. Bassist Jason Lowenstein had already contributed his own creepy paean to incest ("Sister") to Sebadoh's Bubble and Scrape. And not long after "Riding" was broadcast as a BBC session in May, 1994, Lowenstein would work with Oldham on Viva Lost Blues.
But what's really essential about the Sebadoh cover--besides those trademark power chords--is Lou Barlow's vocals. Both a curse and a blessing, Barlow always sang with a sincere, perfect-pitched tenor (as much as he sometimes tried to disguise it for the sake of punk rock cred). Nothing could be more different from Oldham's disturbing redneck-preacher-on-Qaaludes delivery. Barlow, of course, had his own demons. But he usually held them in reserve for live show temper tantrums and long-running feuds with former bandmates.
Riding - Palace Brothers
Riding (electric version) - Palace Music