Cover vs. Original

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

Indigo Girls


Dire Straits

CD-Cover: Indigo Girls - Rites of Passage 45.7 % 54.3 % CD-Cover: Dire Straits - Making Movies
Results of the voting: Cover versus Original
Click on the cover for listening Click on the cover for listening
Indigo Girls 1353 Votes Dire Straits

Further information about song and bands:

Dire Straits
Guitar Page
Everything about Mark Knopfler's equipment. Guitars, amps and strings.
Indigo Girls
Official Site
The Official Site of the Indigo Girls. News, tour dates, lyrics, photos, videos - quite comprehensive.

Comments about Romeo and Juliet:

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Thanks Mod for your very comprehensive presentation of "Romeo and Juliet".
I also like the mood better in the original version by Dire Straits. The guitar play by Mark Knopfler is for me an elementary component of this song. Without it it is only half as good. However, the other songs of the Indigo Girls album are great.
- Michael, Hamburg, Germany, 03.10.2005
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