Sunday, November 14, 2010

Compare and Contrast: An Acuff-Rose is a Rose is a Rose

From 1955, it's Queen of Country Kitty Wells and the original hit version of the sublime "Making Believe."

From 1977, it's the preternaturally beautiful Emmylou Harris and her heartbreakingly pure remake of same.

And finally from 1993, here's former hardcore SoCal punks Social Distortion with a slightly less rarefied but no less heartfelt recreation.

I've been mildly obsessed with "Making Believe" for the last few days, and I'm not sure why. I do know, however, that said obsession ultimately dates back to an afternoon (sometime in the mid 90s) when I wandered into NYCD, the lamented worlds-greatest-indie-record-store hosted by our pal (and current proprietor of Burning Wood) Sal Nunziato at a moment when the Social Distortion version was blasting on the store stereo. I half-remembered the song from my childhood, of course, but having never heard SD (and singer Mike Ness's surprisingly expressive adenoidal vocal stylings) before, nor even imagined that the song could be played in such a bracing and unexpected way, I had something of an epiphany on the spot.

Anyway, it's as great a country song as has ever been written (in this case, by the amusingly monikered Jimmy Work); I suspect that it's all but impossible to perform it badly.