Sunday, July 4, 2010

New York/ Joni Covers: Woodstock, Redux

I just posted four versions of Woodstock for our Summertime theme, just over a week ago, and here I am again. What gives? Well, Woodstock is in New York, and it is one of Joni Mitchell’s signature tunes. But more than that, these two versions add something to the conversation. Each one finds something in the song that the versions I previously posted did not. That’s because Joni Mitchell’s writing is that rich.

Richard Thompson: Woodstock

[unavailable for purchase]

Richard Thompson should need no introduction, but he gets one here. This one comes from a Joni Mitchell tribute concert originally presented on TNT, and I must thank FiL for sending it to me. Thompson plays the song solo, with only his guitar playing for accompaniment. He replaces Mitchell’s parts with an instrumental line that is pure Richard Thompson. Thompson always sings with at least a hint of sorrow in his voice. His Woodstock presents the idealism of Mitchell’s original as a memory of something that was noble, but didn’t pan out.

Big Country: Woodstock

[unavailable for purchase]

Big Country’s Woodstock comes from a radio station performance. In the way of these things, the band plays acoustic, with bongos instead of drums. Here, the idealism of the song is intact. This one seems to me to exemplify the communal spirit of both the song and the festival. There is an almost naïve quality to this performance that perfectly suits the song.

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