Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Carole King Covers: Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

Me First & The Gimme Gimmes: Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

You could argue that one of the ways to tell if a song is really well-written is to see whether it holds up when performed in different styles. Some songs would seem to only be effective in a particular style—for example, the Sex Pistols’ great “God Save The Queen” only works as an angry blast of punk, and not, for example, as a folk tune. Although you might be surprised at how good King Crimson’s prog-rock archetype “21st Century Schizoid Man” sounds in Delta blues style.

“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” seems to sound great no matter how it is played. Written by King and Gerry Goffin when she was still in her teens, the song was first released by The Shirelles in 1960, in classic girl group style, with tight harmony vocals and lush orchestration. Although apparently banned by some radio stations because of the sexual nature of the lyrics (!), it nevertheless reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I’m not going to give you a long tour through the many, many covers of this great song, except to point out that it works in Swedish. And when King recorded the song for the great Tapestry album, she did it in a slower, piano-driven, contemplative style with Joni Mitchell and James Taylor contributing background vocals.  It was both an artistic and commercial success, getting played regularly on FM radio.

It is sort of a gimmick to take classic rock songs of this, and other, eras, speed them up, and turn them into punk songs. Few artists are as committed to this niche that honors the songs, but with sufficient ironic detachment to retain their punk cred, than Me First and The Gimme Gimmes. A “supergroup” of sorts, with members that include Fat Mike of NOFX, Chris Shiflett of Foo Fighters, and Spike Slawson of Swingin’ Utters and Re-Volts, they have released a bunch of albums, EPs and singles, including their 2001 album, Blow In The Wind, which focuses on pop hits of the 1960s. Their version of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” is, appropriately, loud, fast and surprisingly catchy, like The Shirelles’ version, but still retains some of the melancholy of King’s.

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