Okay. We're in the home stretch of this cover song marathon. Song 8 of 10. And then BANG, we're caught up to the present, in which Paul McCartney is a hot new featured artist and Taylor Swift is her own galaxy and Tom Petty is writing songs with people he's never met. It's a wild world, ladies and germs!
But for now, let's stick ourselves back into the world of 2012:
ROLLING IN THE DEEP.
Here' the thing: I committed to this list of 10 songs for a thematic reason. I wanted to ask two questions:
a) What makes a Grammy winning song?
b) What might they sound like if I pick them up with fresh ears?
(A third and equally important question was, "What are the last ten Grammy winning songs?" because it's not like I carry around this list of songs in my wallet.)
So, in a sense, this playlist was already picked for me. I had to live within the constraints of my own choice, which is often where creativity lies. Necessity, as we all know, is the mother of invention.
What I'm getting to is this: the idea of covering this particular song (Rolling In The Deep) bothered me. I felt challenged by this one in a way that I didn't with the others, and I had hard time justifying my take on it. Why? I love the song, I love Adele, I think this moment in pop history was a great one, because it highlighted true talent and true instrumentation. I like everything about the damn thing. My hesitation came from the fact that...
...EVERYONE IN THE WORLD HAS ALREADY DONE A COVER OF THIS SONG!
Go ahead --- text the first person on your list of contacts and ask them if they've ever covered Adele. They'll most likely reply with a link to their youtube page.
Your old friend from high school? He's singing the chorus of Rolling in The Deep on Vine.
Your old aunt Ruth? She's got an EP on iTunes called, "Ruth sings Rollin'", in which she deconstructs the song into 3 versions: Acoustic, Big Band, and Dub Mix.
There's another reason I was hesitant to put this song down: The few times I've sat behind the table at vocal auditions, my ears have been filled with countless versions of the tune, most of which work against the singer's intentions. Adele's vocal performance is SO strong and makes such a lasting impression that the tendency is to mimic her sound or to affect the voice in a way that masks the purity of the singer. (I'm sure that's not always the case, but it's something I've thought about. Sometimes a great song can actually get in a performers way, if that makes sense. It can upstage them, in a way.) And I didn't want to fall into that trap.
ANYWAY. I know I'm overanalyzing this and overthinking this, but the point is: If it weren't for this series I'm doing, I would have rather left this beautiful song alone. But I wanted to complete this series properly and so I tackled the song from a point of view I know well:
That of a 13 year old blues guitar playing little rascal.
I reached into my subconscious and reverted back to the less-than-subtle version of myself that I was when I first started playing blues clubs in Canada (Buds On Broadway and Lydias in Saskatoon, mostly) in an attempt to capture something sort of new within this song. Or, at least, to have fun with it. This is the way I would have covered the song had it come out then, at the end of the 90s, when Johnny Lang and Colin James were personal heroes and I still thought Led Zeppelin was the name of a singer with a really great back-up band. ("Morning, Led. What shall we record today?")
Anyway. It's an unpolished take on a groundbreaking song. I hope you dig it.
PS - Here's a little Colin James, for those of you who aren't familiar: