May 25, 2008
I don't believe in God, but if I did, there would be no doubt in my mind that He walks the Earth since 1949 incarnated in the form of Tom Waits. I suppose some people may think of that as blasphemy, but if you want me to consider the notion of a Completely Perfect Being, then I'll have to take that thought to its logical conclusion.
It follows from this that nothing you can do could be more evil than covering a Tom Waits song. I don't care how accomplished the musician is, any attempt to imitate Tom is doomed to become a mocking, hubristic blasphemy, for which there can be no forgiveness. The lowest circle of Hell is not reserved for Judas Iscariot, but rather for Rod Stewart. Abandon all hope, ye who click here and look on the face of the Devil Himself.
Yesterday I was poking around in the iTunes store when I stumbled on Scarlett Johansson's new album, and from the track titles I noticed that it consists almost entirely of Tom Waits covers. I've rarely been so full of dread as when I clicked on the song samples, and sure enough, they were depressingly awful. As one of the reviewers wrote, it sounds like she's singing in a tank under water.
I really hate to say this, because she's a delightful actress, by all appearances a very likable person, not to mention sexy enough to make my blood boil; and the fact that she has the good taste to appreciate Tom makes her that much more sexy. But I just can't find it in my heart to forgive her, not for this. Scarlett, you're a babe, but IT JUST ISN'T DONE!
Now to prove that an intolerant rant like that is never really true, since there are always a pleasantly surprising exceptions, here's a marvelous acoustic cover of Time:
And here's a band I'd never heard of before called Gov't Mule, until I found this cover of Get Behind the Mule on YouTube. Give yourself nine minutes to listen to the whole thing, this one kicks ass.