Monday, November 19, 2007

When I speak of flowers

Image: Elspeth Diederix

Annie's Song - Sunshine Club

I don't apologize for liking John Denver's "Annie's Song." It's sappy and sentimental, but it's a love song, and one of the most naked and risky to ever grace the pop charts. Written upon reconciliation with an estranged wife, it's so vulnerable it's almost embarrassing (almost). It strikes me as a more populist expression of William Carlos Williams' sentiments in the exquisitely moving, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower," which was also written to a wife at an emotionally fraught juncture. Both gallantly (yet indirectly, and arguably inadequately, through their respective artistic mediums) affirm Williams' agonized assertion, It is ridiculous/what airs we put on/to seem profound/while our hearts/gasp dying/for want of love." "Annie's" rejects airs and profundity for love with every ounce of its hot, quivering heart.

This cover isn't a radical revision. Sunshine Club, a band that existed in 2000 when Denver tribute album Take Me Home (Amazon, eMusic) was released but seems to exist no longer, is content to walk in the songwriter's soft, dusty footprints. Except, where the original is yearning and flushed by the pink glow of optimism, the cover offers a gray whiff of melancholy. It's stark and spare and spacious, seeming to expire less than two minutes in, then only refiring for an instrumental coda. The song is tender, yes, but its wide open spaces leave room for some complications, some uncertainty.

I think I'm going to post a couple more covers this week. Speaking of covers, Berkeley Place is collecting votes for the best covers of the century so far.


Blogger Michael Williams said...

Here's my favourite cover of Annie's Song!

8:38 AM  

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