September 02, 2008

Does Anybody Do It Better?

So, of course, when I finally come across something I feel like talking about, it's on a night when my hand is bugging me and I really should just get off the computer and give it a rest. But then, I have a finely honed sense of poor timing, so why should it be any different for this?

Let's see if I can just write this quickly and without obsessing about perfection, m'kay?

On the drive home from work, I heard a "new" song on the radio, Free Fallin' as done by John Mayer. You may recognize the title as a song by Tom Petty. I enjoyed the Mayer rendition, even though I'm a Tom Petty fan, and it brought to mind a ongoing and eternal debate between me and a friend: Is the original always better?

He says yes, I say no, and I'd like to get your opinion. The Mayer song isn't one I would necessarily use as an example of better than the original, but I also don't think it's not worthy simply because it's a remake. It's interesting on its own merits because we hear the lyrics in a way other than how our minds are, more or less, "trained" to hear them after years of radio play.

There are some songs that are remakes that I like better than the originals, such as Van Halen's version of the Kinks' song, You Really Got Me, Sting's version of Jimi Hendrix's Little Wing, and the Fleetwood Mac song Black Magic Woman as done by Santana, to name a few. I think Mad World by Tears for Fears, as recorded by Gary Jules for the movie Donnie Darko is the best example, since even Roland Orzabal said that it showed him how the song should be played, and Tears For Fears changed their performance of it when they reunited not long ago.

Don't get me wrong, there are a ton of really, really crappy remakes, and we could spend about a week listing all the ones that we hate -- I'm not saying that all of them are better, not even most of them, just that SOME of them are actually better than the original.

Are there any remakes that you like better than the original? Make your case in the comments.