Version Control

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve loved music ever since I can remember (and even before I could remember).  Not only did I like the songs that were on the radio when I was growing up, but I also loved the oldies that my parents played whenever they could.  I would listen intently to each phrase, each nuanced note, and the way the singer(s) emphasized the words they sang.  And I loved the emotions each of those songs conveyed.

I loved these songs so much that it used to REALLY bother me when I heard someone else’s remake of a song, sometimes even refusing to hear the different version.  The moment I heard a note that wasn’t sung quite the “right” way, I immediately turned the music off.  I was also arrogant enough to comment how “Nobody but [insert singer here] should EVER sing that song!”

This pickiness of mine is so bad that I don’t see many concerts, because–even if it’s the original artist–sometimes they tweak the song enough to rub me the wrong way.  A note held a little longer here or there (or even sung a beat earlier or later) is fine, but to change the key in which it’s sung, add a ridiculous guitar or drum riff in the middle, or *gasp* change the lyrics, and I’m ready to walk out.

Many people don’t seem to be as picky as I am about this, but I happen to fall in love with a particular version/recording of the song. It’s the specific vocalizations, inflections etc. that I become comfortable and intimate with.  And, as my husband, Craig, points out, “. . . another version’s differences, however slight, jar us and takes us out of the song, and away from the memories and feelings we’ve attributed to the original rendition.”  That’s certainly true for me, at least.

There have been a couple of times where I’ve either not minded a new version of a song, but many times it’s because the new artist stayed fairly true to the original, like Maroon 5 did with Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” or this version of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” though that may be largely because I’m not a big Elvis fan (also probably because I LOVE the movie “Some Kind of Wonderful,” and this song is on the soundtrack).

But there have been times where I’ve had to eat my hat or shelf my arrogance over which version was the best, especially because I used to think that the first version I heard was the original; I was naive enough to think that nobody in the 80s was remaking songs.  So, when I heard that the Doctor and the Medics song “Spirit in the Sky” was originally done by Norman Greenbaum not even 20 years earlier, I had to adjust my comment to say that I preferred the first version of the song that I’d heard.

And don’t even get me started on the compilations where they trick you by saying “sung by the original artists.”  I fell for that once before I realized it might BE the original artist singing, but it wasn’t the version that was popular in the charts (even if it was the same singer).  I promptly threw out that compilation and haven’t bought any since.

I’m so set in my ways about this subject that HATE the movie Moulin Rouge.  It was bad enough when Ewan McGregor’s character sang that Elton John/Paul McCartney mixture song at the beginning when he confessed his love to Satine, but I nearly walked out of the movie Moulin Rouge at the part where The Duke and others sang Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.”  And I’ve never seen an episode of Glee.

I don’t write about my stubbornness in music to sway anybody (or even to brag), but more as a way to say that I see this particular flaw of mine, and accept it.  Many times we beat ourselves up for our perceived flaws (at least, I have done so in the past), but accepting every part of ourselves–even the less than savory bits–helps us not only learn to accept ourselves, but it helps us accept our fellow human beings as well, because we all have something.


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