I found myself thinking a flood of thoughts today, about music, wine, beer, food, art… in other words, a large part of the gamut of creative human expression. It’s amazing how little truly original work is produced from day to day. Yet, at its best, referential work can also be reverential. The perfect, most easily understood example of the imitative arts – no, it’s not derivative cooking or winemaking styles – may just be the cover song. When done right, cover tunes are not meant to improve on the original. Rather, they should pay homage while at the same time incorporating the signature and essence of the present performer.
I’ve been trying to get my arms around In Rainbows, the latest release from Radiohead, over the last few days. Yeah, I know, I’m running behind. But listening brought back the memory of this performance from Radiohead’s November 9 webcast, a cover of the Smith’s Headmaster Ritual. The sound is sparse, moody, and solid if less rich than the original. At the same time, it’s true to Radiohead’s sound. Enjoy.