Romeo and Juliet
The original "Romeo and Juliet" employs the interplay between instruments and vocals to set mood and convey emotion. In it can be found a wide range of sentiment including whimsy, denial, introspection, pleading, anger, and acceptance. While Mark Knopfler's understated singing does contain some inflections, it sticks close to the melody and does not overshadow the instruments. But I think it's enough.
On the remake, the accompaniment by lone guitar is almost incidental and the singing conveys the emotion. Amy Ray can certainly be credited for pouring her guts into the vocal work as the emotional rawness and energy are obvious. However, it seems the subtlety and complexity are overpowered by anger or accusation. While I can't help but think, "yeah yeah, I get it, you're upset," even that artistic liberty is forgivable; it is quite legitimate for a reinterpretation to play up aspects different from those of the original.
Where I have the most trouble with Ray's version is when she frequently abandons the meter or melody to little positive effect. Sometimes it's with atonal speaking, sometimes simply shouting. Where Knopfler whimsically sings the phrase "Hey la, my boyfriend's back" on-tempo, Ray heavyhandedly retards it and drops the guitar, in my opinion losing the mood, which is supposed to be Juliet singing a song by The Angels (a 1960's girl group). Other examples could be given, but probably the worst case is when Ray screams "I keep bad, bad company!" again having dropped the guitar, the tempo, and the tune. I like to be pulled into a song and feel what the singer feels, but that particular event pops me right out and plants me firmly in the role of uncomfortably observing a trainwreck. This rendition was the first to make me wish I could excise a song from a CD with a sharp tool or perhaps a laser. Pity, because the rest of the album, "Rites of Passage" is great.
Now having vented my spleen in the above paragraph, I just listened to Ray's remake for the first time in several years to double check. I no longer wish to do damage to my CD. I was perhaps harsh, but not unjustified in echoing my earlier assessment from when I'd bought the album soon after its release in 1992. By the way, I also bought "Making Movies" soon after its 1980 vinyl release. It's one of the few vinyl albums that I later bought on CD; some day I'll have to "upgrade" the rest of my vinyl collection.
- Mod Ervador, Philadelphia, United States, 22.09.2005
|Click on the cover for listening
||Click on the cover for listening
Further information about song and bands:
|The Official Site of the Indigo Girls. News, tour dates, lyrics, photos, videos - quite comprehensive.
Comments about Romeo and Juliet:
|You can't beat Amy Ray performing Romeo and Juliet live. Such raw passion!|
- MadDashRev, Amityville, United States, 01.04.2008
|I absolutely love the Indigo Girls version -- it was the first I heard, and I learned to play the song with just as much emotion as they play it with. Only today I heard the Dire Straits version, and I was disappointed, in short. It lacks the energy the Indigo Girls possess.|
- ariana, telluride, United States, 13.01.2008
|Wow...that was some review. I actually love all the things about the Indigo Girls version that you did not...but then again I listen to this song up close and personal so it works for me. The original seemed sleepy to me.|
- Lemissa, LawrencefuckingKansas, United States, 27.11.2007
|I heard Amy Ray's version first and Dire Straits' version was anti-climactic as the song's original rendition. All Amy Ray songs are sung with guts and glory - Romeo and Juliet is no exception. Sure, it's full or rage. Maybe you have to be a dyke to understand that overwhelming, almost vengeful passion? The song's a highlight on "Rites of Passage". |
- Mitzi G Burger, Sydney, Australia, 23.08.2007
|I love both Rites Of Passage and Making Movies - two of my all time favorite albums. However, what Amy Ray did to this song is absolutely criminal. Dire Straits' version is so sweet and romantic, while Ray's screeching is like fingernails on a chalkboard.|
- Jon, Chicago, United States, 20.05.2007
|I defintely like the version by the Indigo Girls much better. The occasional dropped guitar makes me feel her anger and really draws me into the song.|
- Allie Hackle, Philadelphia, United States, 19.03.2007
|While I usually prefer the singer-songwriter's version of their own song, I much prefer Indigo Girls' version of Romeo and Juliet. Amy puts much more feeling into the song. Knopfler's version puts me to sleep.|
- Hillary, Brooklyn, United States, 01.06.2006
|This is one that should have been perfect for the Indigo Girls, but they messed it up. A better cover, and almost as good as (though different from) the orginial is the Brown (University) Derbies.|
- Sam, Louisville, United States, 15.05.2006
|I just want to add that I love the stylised video clip accompanying Dire Straits version.|
- Brigid, Melbourne, Australia, 30.03.2006
|Dire straits - just what a nashville tuning can do for a song :)|
- FlyingZebra, Brussels, Belgium, 22.01.2006