Normally I get in a bit of a huff when I hear a favourite piece of music “corrupted.” Really, really huffy in some cases, like when a favourite rock song is slaughtered by someone with far less talent than the original artist. Certain songs just should not be covered. Not by anyone. Not ever. They’re perfection in their original state, so hands off. Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb being a prime example. I can’t remember which female singer covered it as I tried to put it out of my head the moment I heard it, but it was bad, bad, bad. I seem to recall a dreadful remake of Roxy Music’s More Than This a few years ago, too. Again, I can’t remember who did it because I didn’t want to remember.
Perhaps my main problem with a cover version is when a copycat tries too hard to duplicate the original. Which, of course, can’t be done when the original is just so outstanding, vocally and instrumentally. But once in awhile I hear a remake that doesn’t offend, and the reason it doesn’t is that the one doing the remake didn’t try to be a copycat. A truly well-written piece of music can be easily adapted to other genres, and thus a new version becomes something that stands alone, rather than just being a poor imitation of the original. For example, I’ve heard some fabulous tributes to Queen done by symphony orchestras and jazz musicians. Conversely, Queen guitarist extraordinaire, Brian May, has done some wonderful renditions of classical pieces on his guitar, as have other rock guitarists.
Now, speaking of Brian May, I had a gander at his website yesterday, as I often do, and found something very interesting on his “soapbox”. Yes, the man blogs. Whee! Apparently he started fiddling around with Pachelbel’s Canon years ago, but set it aside, with the intention of returning to it at a later date. Meantime, however, some young pup has fiddled with it aplenty, and recorded his version for the entertainment of those on the Internet. Someone passed the link on to Brian, to get his opinion, which you can read here. Of course, after that endorsement, I had to give it a listen, too. Theoretically I should have hated it, as I seriously love the Canon as is, and really wouldn’t ask anyone to totally mess around with it, as this lad has. But like Brian said, this kid’s version works. And man, can he play guitar. I don’t know who he is, but I suspect that he won’t be anonymous for long.
So, here it is, Pachelbel’s Canon, as you’ve never heard it before.