If a song is truly great, it is robust enough to be reinterpreted in other styles, and that the great singers choose to do so. If nothing else, it brings the song to a completely different audience.
One of the most impressive re-interpretations of a song was done by Johnny Cash, with his version of Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Hurt’. It is one of his last songs, and manages to encompass all the rage of old age, with a sense of a life fully lived. It is so good that Trent Reznor who wrote it has conceded that it is now Cash’s song. This is probably the greatest testament to the singer songwriter who Dylan said, he built the rails the rest of us travel on. This is a mixture of baroque art, punk, country, and pure genius:
This is Nine Inch Nails’ version, which is great in its own right, a totally different song, a rage of youth against the age:
This is one of the great voices of all time, Glenn Campbell covering Green Day’s Good Riddance/Time of Your Life:
This is Green Day’s original.
Rod Stewart did the most famous version of Tom Waites’ Downtown Train, but his gnarly voice is a bit close to the original. This version by Everything but the Girl has a gentle beauty that is different to the original.
Here’s Waites in gnarly old man form:
and whilst on tom, here’s a classic piece of surrealist humour from the tv series, ‘Fishing With John’ when Waites went fishing in Jamaica with John Lurie. Warning: he puts a herring down his pants. You may wish to look away.