Pining for the moon
September 11, 2012 8:40 AM   Subscribe

In March of 2009, an R.E.M. tribute and benefit concert was held at Carnegie Hall. One of the most interesting covers of that evening was Ingrid Michaelson's take on "Nightswimming." Michaelson used a looping pedal to slowly build the harmonies, so that by the end of the song she was accompanied by a whole choir of her own voice. While the Carnegie performance isn't available online, you can see a pared-down but still extraordinary performance from her appearance at the Sirius XM studios. (YT)
posted by shiu mai baby (25 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
See also Dub FX, who does this sort of thing all the time.
posted by mightygodking at 8:46 AM on September 11, 2012


Love REM. Love "Nightswimming". Sorry, don't love this version.
posted by davebush at 8:49 AM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, sorry. The piano was always what made that song for me. She does have a nice voice, though.
posted by Krazor at 9:03 AM on September 11, 2012


see also Imogen Heap's live (on radio) 2006 performance of "Just For Now".

Bonus: her girl-and-a-harmonizer performance of "Hide and Seek" on the same show.
posted by LMGM at 9:09 AM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


The background vocals sound oddly peppy for the song. The piano has a lot more weight to it.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:32 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Agree that the piano makes it weightier, but I don't think it's necessary for the song. As far as covers of the song go, I like it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:38 AM on September 11, 2012


Ah yes, looping pedals. The decade-old musician's gimmick which reliably impresses the fuck out of non-players who have never encountered it before.

Sorry for the snark, but really, for musicians, this is like people watching a juggler with two balls and then gasping in surprise and awe when they add THE THIRD BALL!!!!

Check Reggie Watts for some more interesting and innovative uses of this technology.
posted by Aquaman at 9:41 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry for the snark, but really, for musicians, this is like people watching a juggler with two balls and then gasping in surprise and awe when they add THE THIRD BALL!!!!

You know, there are other things to be impressed by than technical difficulty. If being a "musician" means losing that ability, I'm kinda glad not to be one.
posted by yoink at 9:46 AM on September 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


As a wee lad, perhaps in 1981 or 1982, my parents gave me a cassette player for Christmas. One of those black bulky square player/recorders that player in glorious mono. It looked like something you'd imagine a grad student would have pulled out in those days to record a lecture.

I had a fascination with Weird Al (and thus grew up to join Metafilter) and with Cheech and Chong (which oddly enough led me to never even once do drugs) so I made these tapes by "Chuck and Dave and the All Voice Band." I wrote parody lyrics to every song I liked (I believe my hit among my six friends was "Grinded My Appliance") and would record them on my trusty cassette deck by recording one vocal line then placing that line in our stereo system's cassette player and singing along with it while recording it on my portable cassette player.

I didn't play any instruments, you see.

I probably have half a dozen cassette tapes of me doing a primitive, poorly recorded and (based on my poor imitation of Cheech Marin) hopelessly offensive parodies of 80's songs.

Which is to say, whenever I see somebody make actual good use of looping tech - be it the technical and artistic genius of Reggie Watts or the simpler joys of a recording like this - I get really, really excited to this day. So thank you for sharing!
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:08 AM on September 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Stipe's Nightswimming brings enough tears to my eyes as is. I don't know if I want to hear a version with all the heartstring-tugging trimmings.
posted by clarknova at 10:28 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Joey Michaels, please find a way to get that shit on Mefi Music, stat!
posted by mannequito at 11:24 AM on September 11, 2012


I hate to join the "your favorite band sucks" bandwagon, but if ever there were a more soporific musician than Ingrid Michaelson, I have yet to find her (or him). Her songs are non-melodic at best and smug and irritating at worst, and she piles on twee affectations instead of trying to improve her musical or lyrical slights. Ugh.
posted by pxe2000 at 11:48 AM on September 11, 2012


I don't know guys. Did some of you wake up mad? This was neat. Thanks for sharing.
posted by quadog at 12:47 PM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Joey Michaels, please find a way to get that shit on Mefi Music, stat!

I can't help but think that some things are better left unheard.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:24 PM on September 11, 2012


I enjoyed this, probably because I have no idea who she is and I am not a musician. Thanks for posting.
posted by cairnoflore at 2:34 PM on September 11, 2012


Here's another nice use of a looper: Kimbra (the woman in the Gotye song) doing 'settle down'.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:15 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


John Paul Jones did the string arrangement on the original. That is all.
posted by punkfloyd at 3:32 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm looking forward to listening to this after work. Nightswimming is possibly one of my favorite songs. It captures yearning so completely. Damn. Now it's going to be running through my head all day. Not a bad thing, it's just that being melancholy doesn't help when teaching junior high school.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:24 PM on September 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


My reptile brain is saying "I've got to get me one of them looper thingies."
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:54 PM on September 11, 2012


I hate to join the "your favorite band sucks" bandwagon...

You'll be pleased to know your non-substantive opinion of Michaelson's work has been registered in the Important Registry of Opinions.

Sheesh, it didn't rock my world or anything, but if you're gonna criticise, be critical about it at least.
posted by smoke at 5:23 PM on September 11, 2012


Okay, so I suck when it comes to delayed gratification. I like what she was trying to do, but I think that the choice to go with do-do-dooo instead of just using her voice took away from the overall effect. When she mimics the clarinet in the bridge, she justs sings, not using any words, no do-do-doo stuff, and it sounds wonderful. Had she done that, and perhaps toned down the cutesiness of her delivery, it could have been amazing. As it was, I'm not worse of for listening to it, but the original is much, much more raw and powerful.

And no, I haven't been able to stop whistling the song while walking to class yet. It's okay, I usually whistle while walking to class. My students are used to thinking there's something wrong with their teacher.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:25 PM on September 11, 2012


if you're gonna criticise, be critical about it at least
I...what? I'm not really clear on what you're getting at here.

Michaelson is one of the more overrated, least interesting singer/songwriters out there. Just for fun, let's start out with the starting point for a perfect pop song: the melody. Michaelson writes boring two- to three-note melodies that loop back on themselves in a monotonous manner. There's nothing catchy about her melodies.

Other artists have made careers out of writing amelodic songs -- Leonard Cohen, for example. Cohen seems to approach songwriting with an awareness of his shortcomings and a real gift for lyrics. (He also does great work with unresolved melodies -- one would never mistake "Sisters of Mercy" for "Good Vibrations", but the way each phrase ends seemingly in the middle gives the song a compelling quality.) By contrast, Michaelson has a great gift for the cutesy. Instead of either trying to work on her lack of melodic skill or finding a way to make it work for her, she distracts from her inability to write a perfect folk-pop song by smothering it in ukulele and slapping it with handclaps.

Likewise, her lyrics are repetitive and vacuous. Any further comparisons to Leonard Cohen would be wildly unfair, but she falters even in her post-Lilith folk/pop subgenre. Her versifying has all the depth of a fortune cookie. I'm not expecting someone in her position to show a Cohen-esque genius, but when you compare her repetitive lyrics to others in her class, she falls short of most of their abilities. Oh, and her vocals are a symphony of affectations -- so much upspeaking and vocal fry. (I'd suggest that you go listen to that stupid "Be Okay" song -- yay complacency! -- but I'd rather not wish that on anyone else.)

So it please the Important Registry of Opinions.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:50 PM on September 11, 2012


John Paul Jones did the string arrangement on the original...
posted by ovvl at 8:28 PM on September 11, 2012


I hate to join the "your favorite band sucks" bandwagon...

But apparently, not enough.
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:36 PM on September 11, 2012


IMO Breakable is her best song though I also concede pxe2000's points. Listening to her imitate Michael Stipe, not merely cover REM but sound like she's doing an impression lowers my opinion of her artistically. I realize that actually Breakanle is just a poor impression of Sinead O'Connor's Nothing Compares to You.
posted by humanfont at 3:48 AM on September 12, 2012


« Older Did You Know Gaming? explores video game secrets, ...  |  Nipplegate: Why the New Yorker... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments