Cover vs. Original

Back in the High Life Again

I first became acquainted with "High Life" through the folkish take on Zevon's "Life'll Kill Ya". Later, I heard Winwood's poppy 1986 original, but I still saw Zevon's as the better version.

- Bob, Columbia, MO, United States, 06.11.2005

Warren Zevon


Steve Winwood

CD-Cover: Warren Zevon - Life'll Kill Ya 67.1 % 32.9 % CD-Cover: Steve Winwood - Back in the High Life Again
Results of the voting: Cover versus Original
Click on the cover for listening Click on the cover for listening
Warren Zevon 1089 Votes Steve Winwood

Comments about Back in the High Life Again:

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I see many people ahead of me write a long and intellectually fucked arguement about this song. The point of this site I believe is about listinability, not communist propoganda and all the other shit. Original is boring...plain and simple, nwewr is better. Wot more can I say?
- Tim K, Hervey Bay, Australia, 25.04.2008
This song used to annoy the crap out of me until I heard Zevon inject some sincerity into it
- Shrinertim, Omaha, United States, 14.03.2008
Poor Degsy???

Are you kidding me?
I am envious of someone who is about to "discover" the late, great Warren Zevon for the first time!! You are in for a treat.
- JP, Saskamatoon, Canada, 22.01.2008
The problem with calling a winner here is the lyric as written. When Zevon signs it, you HEAR it as a lament against something lost (probably by the singer's own reckless doing) and the loser's bold (and, we are sure, false) hope that good luck will visit him again. And it's beautiful and moving. However, Winwood's lyric is about a voluntary choice he made to forgo the "high life" and live a simpler life, before tiring of it and simply visiting "that bright part of town" again; so, as written and performed, there's nothing wrong with Winwood's version. Zevon's version would be better if (and he might; I'll have to listen closely) he changes the lyric slightly to say "The doors that closed one time" rather than "The doors I closed." Big difference.
- William Zanzinger, Chicago, United States, 24.10.2007
Just a great song sung with the right voice for it.

'Never heard of Zevon'? Poor Degsy: listen to Werewolves of London and then to all of his albums/CD's!
[Especially 'Sentimental Hygiene' & 'The Best of Warren Zevon/A Quiet Normal Life']
He seems a bit underrated as a singer/songwriter.
- bhesper, Rotterdam, Netherlands, 02.10.2007
Who is Warren Zevon? never heard of him.
- Degsy, The Boro, England, 19.09.2007
Who is Warren Zevon? never heard of him.
- Degsy, The Boro, England, 19.09.2007
i remember the phenomenon of Winwood's
song back in '86, but I gotta say, it just never
really touched me. I'd forgotten about it until
I heard Zevon's version. It seemed so much more
powerful, so much more genuine a reading
that I wondered if somehow WINWOOD's
had been the cover version. I know that that's
not the case, but it's the rare example of a
cover that feels more real than the (slicker)
original. Kudos to Winwood for writing it,
and to Zevon to realize that the song had more to
say. And I'd feel this way regardless of the cancer.
- Vincent, San Diego, United States, 27.08.2007
Sorry to second guess you, Andy in West Palm, but the previous poster (Carlo) is right. Zevon was diagnosed in 1998, and yes, he wasn't sure he was dying yet. But Knockin' On Heaven's Door (Dylan) was yet a follow-up cover pertinent to learning his prognosis. I think Carlo from Pittsburgh said he was pondering the high life of heaven or hell. Carlo's from Pittsburgh was a beautiful tribute, let's just leave it that way and not get testy. Out of everyone here, I think Carlo hit the nail right on the head.
- Ron Bogut, Pittsburgh, United States, 03.11.2006
Even as a Warren Zevon/Jackson Browne guitar coach (I'm about Warren's age -- 62), I was overwhelmed sitting and listening to Warren's passionate cover on acoustic guitar. He seemed to be given to one of his fondest memories lost and rediscoverd before he was to die of lung cancer (I was afraid to ask but I think that's it). It was then and only then that I reprised Winwood's original when I last saw Zevon and Browne: It's apparently some kind of Scottish Coldwater Guards-sounding rendition that gives one the mental image of a hammer twirling, kilt wearing bass drummer banging away, accompanied by a shako-clad band of bag pipers marching on a grassy drill field on the outskirts of Glasgow on their last pass hither-to-dither to get a beer after band practice. It's double-remarkable how both versions have a marked difference of voice and emotion soley predicated on instrument arrangements and emotional objectives. When I hear Warren Zevon's cover I'm clear on his meaning of a lost-and-found "high life", a terminally diagnosed illness sitting at a side table in a bar pondering his fate; yet when I hear Steve Winwood's original, I lose the point of the song's objective altogether other than Steve drinks Miller High Life beer preferably in a glass poured from a bottle rather than straight from the can. Warren is voicing subdued fear of the unknown; Warren is telling it as he sees it in a story that's going to take him to the high life of heaven or hell, whereby Steve is merely singing a song. Hoping I haven't offended anyone, but does anybody else see and hear what I heard and saw?
- Carlo Rossi, Pittsburgh, PA, United States, 31.10.2006
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