Monday, September 17, 2007

I Feel So Break Up: The Eternal Nature of Sloop John B

When they say that (some) music is timeless I don’t think they were referring to the eternal regurgitation of classic songs, but maybe they were. Wouldn’t that make sense then that if a song makes it into the ‘timeless’ category then it should be able to be played in whatever era, far and removed from the breeding grounds where it was consummated? I guess that means that commercials will forever be dubbed over with Beatles cover bands and Southern California car ads ripping off “I Get Around” every June for their annual summer sales.

I have long been a fan of the classic “Sloop John B” that now eternally resides in the celestial garden of folk songs. The premiere example of Sloop John’s musical ability strikes most and is most recognizable as the seventh track and imminent roadblock to the near perfect Beach Boys’ pop masterpiece Pet Sounds. But many others have been attributed to their own versions (and titles) of the song, many before and after the Beach Boys version.

[mp3] The WeaversWreck Of The John B
[mp3] Van MorrisonI Wanna Go Home (feat. Lonnie Donegan)
[mp3] The Beach BoysSloop John B
[mp3] Dick Dale and the DeltonesSloop John B

On his new album, Elephant War, Deer Tick almost seamlessly works in the chord progression and small melodic phrases from the “John B” track into his “Dirty Dishes”. It isn’t a cover of the classic “Sloop John B” or even a ripoff of the more recognizable aspects of the original but rather an implementation of those timeless elements that make songs memorable and give listeners the ability to connect to a song. The only problem is that I am tirelessly awaiting the opportunity to sing the words “I wanna go home” at the end of each refrain but to no resolve.

[mp3] Deer TickDirty Dishes

But where Deer Tick shies away from allowing the listener to fully dig up the original roots of the song, Okkervil River cleverly maneuvers the theme and feel of “Sloop John B” into a completely original composition that culminates in a full out unearthing of the original “John B” but with a lyrical reinterpretation of the original. With Okkervil River’s previous album, Black Sheep Boy, being a concept album based around the re-imagining of the Tim Hardin folk classic “Black Sheep Boy”, it is no curiosity that the band chose to be less grandiose and formulate a song around another song rather than create an entire album around a single song.

[mp3] Okkervil River John Allyn Smith Sails


Blogger Chris Mora said...

Interesting points and examples.

Sloop John B has been a favorite Beach Boys tune of mine for you years.

And considering it's a little past 5pm at work, I wouldn't mind going home either...

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bravo on a most original posting.
Great song selections.
Excellent concept.

I'm feeling a little less break up already.

I'm bookmarking this blog.

Thanks for the tunes.

1:36 PM  

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