Recently, I received a share from an artist (Lizzyspit), who had covered Bruce Springsteen‘s urgent “I’m On Fire” song. While I admired her attempt to record the song in her own way, I felt that she missed out on the expressive urgency of the emotions running throughout that song. In short, Springsteen’s subject is filled with a uncontrollable desire, and I sure bloody well know he is. I can feel it. He has translated that emotion perfectly. Hell, he transports me.
I’ve since listened to the Lizzyspit version several more times to see if I could catch any sense of that “bad desire”, and I couldn’t. The translation was lost. Still, my hat is off to her for trying. Her other songs are definitely worth listening to.
This spurred a need within me to search around and find other covers of “I’m On Fire” in the hopes that I could actually find one that rivaled the original, or at least captured the essence. Here’s what I came up with:
Chromatics: The music is a splendid version of the song, with the heat of it smoldering just below the surface. But the vocals come in and the cover loses the urgency immediately. Still, like Lizzyspit‘s version, a nice attempt to capture a song.
Lady Antebellum: Honestly, Chromatics came closer musically to what was needed to recreate a successful version of the song. Next!
Mumford & Sons: I know they’re popular and all, but they get a fail here for the same reasons. Their cover of “The Boxer” (Simon & Garfunkel) loses out too. Emotion! Translation!
Bat for Lashes: I give them credit for changing the “daddy” word to “momma”, something I figured that the other females singles would – or should – do. But, again, the emotion suffers making the song less than what it was meant to be. Still, she’s on the right track…
Tori Amos: If there was one I thought might do it right, it was Tori Amos. Her pacing and tone was not bad, but she was unable to catch the essence. I mean really unable…!
John Mayer: He gets a good running start on the song, then gets, uh, distracted? Because he loses the intensity heard at the beginning. Plus, the music isn’t fiery enough.
There are quite a few attempts to cover “I’m On Fire”. For me, I haven’t heard a cover I liked of the song. And trust me, I love a great cover of a great song. Sometimes, a great cover is BETTER than the original. Strumming a guitar and singing doesn’t always guarantee it comes out right. The delivery is supposed to be there. The engine! The heat!
Artists insistent on covering “I’m On Fire”, remember…”there’s a freight train running through the middle of my ‘YOUR’ head”! Use it!