At Music Times, we love a good cover song. There's something wonderful about repurposing music and essentially bringing life to another creation. Music is not a rigid and inflexible product but rather a malleable one that allows songs to take on a new life as others reimagine it. Nothing gets a crowd more excited than seeing one of their favorite bands cover one of their favorite songs. The cover song makes music accessible to new audiences, and spreading music is what we are all about. Welcome to Freak Friday. Each week we highlight a new cover song that we're crazy about. Have suggestions? Send them our way! This week, we give you...
Song: "My Sweet Lord"
Cover Artist: Elliott Smith
Original Artist: The Beatles
Why We Love it: Today is the 12th anniversary of George Harrison's death at age 58 from cancer. Known as the "quiet Beatle" or the "spiritual Beatle," he was often overlooked for his songwriting because of hit makers Paul McCartney and John Lennon, despite being a great, introspective writer. One of our favorite Harrison songs at Music Times is "My Sweet Lord." We wanted to choose a cover of that song that kept the integrity of Harrison's version while adding another reverential dimension. Jim James version (under the Yim Yames moniker) is a stripped down rendering of the song with only echoes vocals and an acoustic guitar. Something about the choir and the reverb adds an ethereal element that seems appropriate as a tribute to the late Beatle's on the anniversary of his passing.
Background: "My Sweet Lord" was released in 1970 on Harrison's multi-platinum triple album All Things Must Pass. It was also released as a single, his first as a solo artist, and topped the charts worldwide. In the documentary The Material World, Harrison explains the "Hallelujah" and "Hare Krishna" references. "First, it's simple," he said. "The thing about a mantra, you see... mantras are, well, they call it a mystical sound vibration encased in a syllable. It has this power within it. It's just hypnotic."
According to BeatlesBible, he began writing the song while touring in Europe in 1969 and it was inspired by the 18th century hymn "Oh Happy Day." About the song, Harrison said, "It really just knocked me out, the idea of that song and I just felt a great feeling of the Lord. So I thought, I'll write another 'Oh Happy Day', which became 'My Sweet Lord.'"
Jim James took on a cover of the song for his EP Tribute To, which consisted entirely of George Harrison covers and was recorded just days after Harrison passed away. About the album, James told Billboard Magazine, "I felt like I was in the weirdest head space when I did that EP... I felt really confused a lot of the time. I wanted to just do it and let it come out even if I messed stuff up. It's definitely not the tightest or most professional recording you're ever going to hear in your life, but I like that. I think it lends it a more childish atmosphere."
Check out the Jim James cover and compare it to the original here. Let us know what you think in the comments section below!