23 March 2010


Speaking of the Old Songs . . .

I was supposed to go back to Book Blogging this week (because that is where all the money is all the comments are); but as usual, I turned my back for one second and all my good blogging intentions managed to scoot away from me to freedom.

So after totally throwing off my Book Blogging momentum with last week's halfhearted, if Haim-centric Horror week, and starting off this week with a Writing Diary Entry and a Tutor Tale which both had no more to do with reading than the vague vituperation of a local History textbook, I'm going to reveal that I haven't quite learned my lesson yet by publishing a musical post.

This post--and its siblings--have actually been cooking for quite a while, and were what inspired last week's metaphor about the writing of one's history being the singing of old songs in new ways.

My Top 5 Rock Covers

1) I Am the Walrus by Oasis

I really can't think of a band that covers the Beatles better. Indulgent guitar solo and all. Noel Gallagher has said that he likes I Am the Walrus because it is Nonsensical Lennon rather than Confessional Lennon--and I think that's a good point. It's easier to cover nonsense on the basis of a shared sense of humour than to cover personal confessions on the basis of a presumed deeper connection. And that's why this cover works so well.

(Listen to The Beatles.)

2) I Fought the Law by The Clash

Just like that, they turned a repentant Pop ditty into a rebellious Punk anthem. Decades later, when Green Day did their own version, they weren't doing a cover as much as paying proper Punk homage to The Clash.

(Listen to The Crickets. Sigh! Bobby Fuller did it so much better that I thought he had done it first.)

3) Tuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka by The Eraserheads

I may just be limited by my generation, but I think the E-heads' version is the best. Sometimes it really does take power chords to bring out the passion in a tender love song.

(I can't find Basil Valdez's original rendition.)

4) Nakapagtataka by Sponge Cola

Can you tell I have a weakness for love songs that are covered as power ballads? This one is one of my favourite love songs of all time, even if it is about a histrionic woman and the poor fellow who loves her. Such a beautiful melody at the service of such a dysfunctional relationship . . . I am reminded of Gustave Flaubert's gorgeous prose in Madame Bovary. I suppose one could adapt his novel to a contemporary Rock and Roll setting and get the same effect that Sponge Cola achieves here.

(Listen to the original by the Apo Hiking Society. My father worked on that, by the way.)

5) You Belong with Me by I Hate My Ex

Oh, man! I just love this! They did an excellent job at making a recent song that has received so much airplay sound new again.

(Listen--one more time, if you please--to Taylor Swift.)


r said...

I read and enjoy all this stuff, but I don't think I have anything to say about it. I have plenty to say about books (and about Catholicism, actually, but I respect your wish to keep that in the background, futile as it is).

Enbrethiliel said...


How is this for Catholic: I'm taking the entire Holy Week off! =P

And one of my quieter fascinations (which you might have noticed anyway) has been the ways Catholics who are not particularly religious manage to give themselves--or at least their Catholic upbringing--away. Aside from my obvious "+JMJ+" (and of course, my connection to Sancta Sanctis and the occasional "Punk Catholic" post that pops up here), I wonder if there is anything here that makes my own "Catholic upbringing" obvious to first-time readers.

Since I couldn't find anyone I was brave enough to ask to be my lab rat, I'm doing double duty as both researcher and rat. It's a strange life.

r said...

I can't comment on you, I saw Sancta Sanctis first. I think I give myself away by my opinions on Protestantism, especially the biblical-literalist strains. (I'm an amateur Bible scholar and an appreciator of fine literature, and I'm offended in both capacities by such sects.)

Enbrethiliel said...


Sigh! Sometimes I think I should have just started afresh with a completely new blog and name. Sancta Sanctis casts a surprisingly long shadow . . .

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

Personally, I think music is completely in harmony (heh) with a book blog, if only because they're both forms of expression and lyrics are basically just poetry put to music.

Also, I think it's awesome that you play guitar. I've been playing for six years and can count on one hand the number of girls I've met who can play as well. For some reason, it's thought of as a boy's instrument.

Enbrethiliel said...


Thanks, Lindsay! I went to an all-girls school for thirteen years (and then taught there for two years), and we had to play our own instruments if we wanted any music, so I've never really thought of the guitar as a boy's instrument. (Then again, there doesn't seem to be a single girl guitarist in any of these rock covers I've just put up!)

Maybe Taylor Swift's influence in the US will change that. =) I certainly hope so, because the guitar is a fantastic instrument and I hope more girls learn to love it, too.

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

I taught guitar at an all-girls summer camp in Pennsylvania one year, but even there most of the girls were more interested in singing than playing along with their song.

I had my guitar case on the bus with me one day last summer and the bus went by a guy who plays the harp downtown in the summer to make money, and some random guy turned to me and said, "You and that guy should switch instruments."

I asked, "Why?" and he said, in a perfectly serious tone that made it clear he wasn't trying to be insulting but really believed what he was saying, "Because he looks like a f** and you look like a d***." (Two of my least favorite words, by the way, so the statement pissed me off on a bunch of levels.)

The only good thing that came out of it was an older gentleman approached me when I got off the bus and said, "Honey, don't you listen to anything anyone says. You just keep playing your guitar. I bet you rock at it." It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it, because he was obviously bothered by the idiot as much as I was.

Anyway, for every a-hole out there there's a nice guy around the corner.

Sorry for the ramble. :)

Enbrethiliel said...


That first guy was just unbelievable! >=(

I'm glad the other fellow was a gentleman and that your story has a happy ending.