Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Song of the Day: 'Sweet Jane' by Liz Phair


My number one rule when watching Instagram stories from influencers is TURN THE SOUND OFF. Without fail, they listen to the most horrific music, which is probably to say they listen to music by current artists. So imagine my surprise when a hunky Frenchman with a cute cat I follow -- someone's got a type -- slipped through the cracks and was listening to the Velvet Underground's "Sunday Morning" during a, well, Sunday workout. I proceeded to play the entire "Velvet Underground & Nico" album -- born the same year I was -- which then prompted Damian to ask if Lou Reed & Co. was a group I grew up listening to or discovered later. After pausing to think, I concluded back it was a little bit of both. The Velvet Underground is considered one of the most influential bands of all time, and the proof was in my Snack Pack pudding: 


To the best of my memory, I started with REM's cover of "There She Goes" (the b-side to "Radio Free Europe" in 1983) and from there just about every artist I liked followed suit. Tracey Thorn ("Femme Fatale" 1982, Big Star and later REM did it, too); Lone Justice ("Sweet Jane" with Bono 1984, and later by the Cowboy Junkies); Susanna Hoffs/Rainy Day ("I'll Be Your Mirror" 1984, and later by the Primitives, Debbie Harry and Shakespears Sister); Japan ("All Tomorrow's Parties" 1980); OMD and Nina Hagen ("Sunday Morning" 1993 and 1995, respectively); Kirsty MacColl and Evan Dando ("Perfect Day" 1995) and so on.


Somewhere in the middle of that I bought the seminal 1967 album and the rest, as they say, is history. Not unlike Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, though, I frequently prefer when other people cover Lou Reed material. And today's pick is no exception. Liz Phair's version of "Sweet Jane" that was featured in a 2016 episode of "The Good Wife" (called "Mind's Eye"). Although it never appeared on an album, it was made available on her YouTube channel. I only learned about her version after going into a rabbit hole precipitated by that Instagram whore. And all this time I thought influencers weren't very influential!

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