Thursday, June 11, 2015

Perfect (Cover) Songs: A Case of You

case of you
Drink the whole thing, dust and all.
It happens often that the first time I hear a song it turns out to be a cover, I dig back to the original and wind up liking the cover better. Sometimes, the opposite happens, though. And sometimes, they're pretty even. Sometimes I'll hear yet other versions and find some that stand on their own, bringing something new to the mix and I'm left unable to decide which is better because it really depends on what you're in the mood for. But at the end of the day, the strength of the song itself is what stands, and practically any version will do. I haven't heard every single version as I'm sure there must be millions, well, maybe not that many, but a lot, but I think Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You" is in that league where you can have a, uh, case of different versions to choose from. I'm saying it's a perfect song with several perfect covers.

The first time I heard it was Tori Amos' version which is a B-Side from Under the Pink's "Cornflake Girl" UK single. If you were ever into Tori, you sought these things out. It's the version I first hear in my head since it's ingrained deeply. I played this thing over and over again, obsessed with the melancholy longing to want to get completely drunk on someone. There's a sense of morbidity in love that is rarely talked about explicitly, but I often hear in the best love songs. Tori's take on the song seems to drown in that submission and it's captivating. But eventually, I had to hear the original.

Remember that Janet Jackson song, "Got Til It's Gone" where she sampled Joni Mitchell and Q Tip kept saying "Joni Mitchell never lies"? Yeah, he wasn't lying either. Though her's is not my favorite, I think it's interesting that her's seems to lean a little more towards the defiant joy of a complicated, sometimes combative and maybe even slightly abusive (?) relationship. I mean it's her song, she knows what it's about so it makes sense her performance seems to stay closer to the emotion of the lyrics. And again, it's entirely possible the difference between these two versions is all in my head. But it is what it is and it's what this song is to me. So, then there was Prince.

Only Prince can do that. He takes it to a level that is at once true to both of the other two versions but amps up the sexy to the point that this is a bedroom jam. It's candle light and satin sheet music and it somehow fits perfectly. I don't normally go for this type of R&B, but this is just so different from the original that it's hard not to appreciate what he's done here. I'd mention the fact that it's coming from a male point of view when the song seems to be coming from a much more traditionally feminine perspective, but the truth is, Prince has never been tied to any gender and that fact also manages to add another layer of depth to this. Because at the end of the day, what does gender have to do with it? It's a direct challenge to preconceived notions that while now a days is beginning to seem obvious, wasn't always so. Anyway, one more to round this out, which I just discovered, can't stop listening to and I think has become my favorite.

Ana Maoura's fado version is absolutely perfect to me. It's a no-brainer to take this song of longing and do it in a style that is all about longing. This really brings the atmosphere of someone drinking a case of bittersweet memories of their lover in a lonely tavern to life in a way none of the other versions do. I could feel all of these, but I can really see this one. I'm in that room. I'm drinking with her. I get it in a way that can't be explained. That's perfection and I could drink many cases of that shit.


  1. I also heard Tori's version first. After reading/hearing this post, I'm no longer sure which version I like best. Maybe Prince's.

    1. There are many, many other versions, too. None of these would be a bad choice, though.