Sunday, July 8, 2012

Elvis Covers Part I: Can't Help Falling In Love

Eels: Can't Help Falling In Love


Nell Robinson: Can't Help Falling In Love


It's not just that the Elvis songbook is so deeply embedded in our culture, though it is. It's that the songs he made famous echo through the canon of American music like a grace note, their strand woven into our very psyche. Great performers like E. A. Presley influence generations, their nuance and narrative lingering in us as individuals and collectively; it is because of this, in no small part, that I am a coverblogger.

Case in point: like many children of that infamous hairspray era the 80's, my introduction to this song was through the pouty pop of Canadian crooner Corey Hart, whose Top 40 hit was but a b-side footnote to the nocturnal eyewear of his biggest; later that year, I would revel in the upbeat celtic mood of Lick The Tins as they took the song to the streets in John Hughes vehicle Some Kind Of Wonderful, which premiered in my own little town.

Since then, of course, I've collected dozens upon dozens of covers of Elvis' nth most popular Greatest Hit, from the regaaepop version UB40 released in the early nineties to several sparse and stunning versions done in the last few years. Many are excellent, especially those which have taught me to recognize the strength under the syrup: as tender and brokenly self-effacing as Mark E of the Eels plays it in concert, as sweet and gentle as Nell Robinson's old-timey lullaby. Also worth digging up, for comparison's sake: Ingrid Michaelson's swoony piano cover, Howe Gelb's shattered, breathy bassgrowl, an utterly dreadful thing from Bono, and a gift for hardcore folk fans: Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger, with a story of the first time they played this song together.

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