Friday, 9 April 2010

Enjoy The Silence

What makes a song one which everyone and his dog wants to cover? Why are some songs covered to death and others not? Presumably the quality of the song writer has something to do with it so that the covering artist can attempt some form of vicarious notoriety otherwise nobody would put out Beatles’ covers. I dare say that a universally successful song generates its own inertia and thus virtually puts itself up for adoption but these are not always the right choice. Comparisons with the original version can send most covers to the ‘seemed like a good idea’ graveyard unless it’s right on the money.


But there are other songs that generate a life of their own and artists fall over themselves to do a cover. One such song is ‘Enjoy The Silence’ written by Martin Gore and performed originally by Depeche Mode on their masterpiece ‘Violator’. It is one of those songs that people who like Depeche Mode know about as it was a reasonable hit, but is not a generally recognised song in the same league as ‘Yesterday’. However, it has a certain cache amongst artists in the industry and is more of a musicians’ favourite rather than a public choice.

The general consensus amongst those who comment on YouTube is that the best version is by Italian goth-rockers, Lacuna Coil and I would go along with this to a large degree. The style of the song lends itself to their rather noir performance and the interaction of male and female vocals works very well. But, it is pretty much a re-run of the original that has been put together well with great vocals.

Others who have attempted ‘Silence’ include Kim Wilde (as part of her live set only) and Keane and each has its merits but they are, again, largely recreations of the Depeche Mode style but with different instruments. In my book a good cover is one that makes you think about a song in a different way.

So I’m going to champion a version created by that ace song re-interpreter Tori Amos. Amos excels at this sort of thing as anyone who has her covers album ‘Strange Little Girls’ will know. By carefully re-phrasing the vocal lines and subtly changing the musical harmony, she has moved this song into a different sphere. It has real passion and strangeness about it that even the original version lacks. Check out the video and see if you agree.

8 comments:

Jayne said...

It’s not a song I am familiar with at all, so this rendition by Tori Amos is my first hearing. It’s an odd haunting little ditty, isn’t it? It would definitely suit a noir performance. I can also see it suiting Keane – they like their soaring/sweeping vocals. Why would it be a favourite for musicians?

musicobsessive said...

Hi Jayne - I urge you to seek out the original and indeed the whole of Depeche Mode's 'Violator' - it is one of life's pleasures!

As to why musicians seem to like it, I'm not sure but as a sort-of musician myself, I can say that there are some songs that just 'feel' right. The chord sequence rolls along beautifully and the melody is just fun to sing. It may be that the tune has just the right vocal range or doesn't require odd breathing patterns. Perhaps there is something clever in the harmony...so many possibilities.

I have a selection of songs that I love to play and many of them are not well known, it's just that they suit me and feel fun to do. Is that the answer?

Kit Courteney said...

Thanks for the comments you left on my blog.

I LOVE the Depeche Mode version so wasn't sure about this one before I listened.

Wow! I need to hunt out my Tori Amos stuff now.

musicobsessive said...

Hi Kit - glad you could make it to my virtual corner of the world. I'm not a fan of covers unless they really show a different side to the song and I think this does in spades. Which means both Tori and Depeche Mode have a unique take. Nothing worse than straight karaoke?

Kit Courteney said...

In my book there's nothing worse than ANY karaoke ;0)

musicobsessive said...

Haha! You've heard me sing then...

Rose said...

I love Tori Amos, she does quirky covers sometimes live and they are always completely brilliant, she is ridiculously talented. Sorry to say I don't know the original which I know is a crime against music. I like your blog!

musicobsessive said...

Hi Rose - Thanks for your lovely comment. I agree, Tori Amos has a special gift for covers although some are a little strange! I like this one in particular because of her piano playing. I'm a sucker for good piano playing - much better than the usual doodling on some keyboard or other by other artists I could mention.

You must check out the original by Depeche Mode - try http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rdfFroO67g