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that's Johnny Depp on guitar, no?
February 27, 2010 7:32 PM   Subscribe

Star-studded Haiti disaster relief singles probably won't get any better than this: Shane McGowan, Nick Cave and friends with I Put a Spell On You.
posted by flapjax at midnite (60 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, and here's a little bit of background news coverage.

Note! WARNING: clip contains traces of We Are The World.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:37 PM on February 27, 2010


That's way too much cool to be allowed in one room.
posted by cazoo at 7:43 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Chrissie Hynde really steals the show.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:47 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Stereogum blurb lists way-too-cool personnel, and makes this salient point:

"...a song that doesn’t so obviously address the state and need of the Haitian people through bathos and self-aggrandized posturing (“Everybody Hurts”; “We Are The World”) and is all the more effective for it. Seems to be more like, let’s get together, realize our place in this thing, smoke a cigarette, remind ourselves that we can still do a little something to help without being patronizing assholes about it. "
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:49 PM on February 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Chrissie Hynde really steals the show.

Yeah, she turns in a pretty damn fine vocal performance there.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:50 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Great song, but totally got distracted by the fact that the guitar playing in the video in no way matched what was coming out of my speakers at the time.
posted by axiom at 7:52 PM on February 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


this is pretty good too.
posted by philip-random at 7:58 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


this is pretty good too.

Indeed. Screamin' Jay Hawkins, previously.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:02 PM on February 27, 2010


And umm, does this mean that Johnny Depp is officially cool now?
posted by philip-random at 8:03 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I-i-i-i-i-i-i-...

Yes. okay, do that. Yes.
posted by The Whelk at 8:07 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


that was all kinds of awesome
posted by angrycat at 8:10 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


When wasn't Johnny Depp cool? All you 21 Jump Street haters can go to hell.

Nicke Cave is probably my favorite musician that is still alive. I wonder how long I'll be able to make that statement.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:14 PM on February 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


philip-random: "this is pretty good too."

Damn right. Puts the new version to shame. Hawkins is one of the best live performers I have ever seen. The intensity and malice of the original is right up Cave's alley, so it is sad he did not rise to the occasion with this rendition. And none of the vocalists brought the pain and anger that these lyrics need. And instrumentally, the meter was too regular, the orchestration was too dense, and too compressed, and everything was a bit too in tune and lackluster - the song needs an emotional violence that is hard to achieve without a sparse arrangement.

And, definitely, a much better song choice than the typical charity song bathos. Just wish the musicians could have done the song justice.
posted by idiopath at 8:16 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it's interesting song choice. Instead of the register of innocence that the classic 'we are the world'-type treacly fundraising songs stay within, this tune is about a dark spell. You wonder how much they thought about the song choice considering the place the money was going to, with its much misunderstood and unfairly demonized-for-centuries West African-influenced religious practices.
posted by umbú at 8:18 PM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh--I should have clicked on the Hawkins version of the tune before making my comment. Wow. It's a bold choice.
posted by umbú at 8:21 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


idiopath: "typical charity song bathos pathos"

FTFM
posted by idiopath at 8:28 PM on February 27, 2010


I wouldn't disagree with any of idiopath's criticisms of this version: he's pretty correct on most all points, IMO. About this, though:

The intensity and malice of the original is right up Cave's alley, so it is sad he did not rise to the occasion with this rendition.

It's a blues intensity, though, and I wouldn't really expect Cave to inhabit that, exactly. I also thought his vocal performance wasn't that great, but honestly, I just don't think it's his kind of material. He was a little pitchy there at the end of the phrase too, wasn't he?

As far as it not living up to the original, in general, well, that's kind of a no-brainer for me. I wouldn't even expect it to, really. Great that it'll reflect back some attention to the original, though, and of course, great that it'll raise some money for Haiti relief.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:35 PM on February 27, 2010


Who the hell was the first chick to appear--the redhead?
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:37 PM on February 27, 2010


this tune is about a dark spell.

It certainly is. In this context I would strongly suggest we consider it a metaphor for the shameful treatment of Haiti by American and European policy since independence: the crushing poverty and lack of reliable civic culture are the direct consequence of a deliberate decision to crush the possibility that the nation would develop a productive and independent economy taken when the state was found liable to the French for the cost of lost assets in the Revolution.

Baron Samedi c'est nous. Screamin' Jay was always just a means to remind us of this fact.
posted by mwhybark at 8:40 PM on February 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


flapjax at midnite: "I just don't think it's his kind of material"

If I can't have you, no one will
I love you, you, you
I love you
I love you
I love you
I love you, you, you
I don't care if you don't want me
'cause I'm yours, yours, yours anyhow


Nick Cave in his prime could speak those sort words, no singing needed, and chill to the bone. This man did an entire album of murder ballads, and he can't do this song today. Sad. It could be age, or the short notice. But there was a lost potential there.
posted by idiopath at 8:48 PM on February 27, 2010


Cave would have been more convincing if he wasn't chewing gum.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:00 PM on February 27, 2010


Nick Cave in his prime could speak those sort words, no singing needed, and chill to the bone.

Alright then, you've said what I (in my slight fear of being accused of age-ism*) couldn't quite bring myself to come out and say in my earlier comment. Cave is not "in his prime". Maybe he just can't quite reach that place anymore, that would allow him to make this songhis. That may well be the main reason his performance here just didn't cut the mustard for you.

*ironic, perhaps, for a 52-year-old such as myself
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:11 PM on February 27, 2010


"Who the hell was the first chick to appear--the redhead?"

Paloma Faith.
posted by HopperFan at 9:11 PM on February 27, 2010


Please insert space between "song" and italicized "his" in above comment. Thank you.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:13 PM on February 27, 2010


I'm a very emotional person, however cold I appear on the exterior. A lot of people think I appear cold, but why shouldn't I be, with strangers? I don't know them, they don't mean anything to me. I'm always warm with people I know, if I like them. I'm not a hypocrite.
posted by ovvl at 9:14 PM on February 27, 2010


Nicke Cave is probably my favorite musician that is still alive. I wonder how long I'll be able to make that statement.

You saw who he was standing next to, right? Shane MacGowan makes Nick Cave look like Jack LaLanne. In fairness, you may be amongst those who believe that Shane MacGowan is an unkillable demon from the hoary netherworld. I am forced to admit that there is considerable evidence for this position.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:23 PM on February 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


It's due to his considerable talent that no one has ever casted protection from Negative Plain around Mr. MacGowan
posted by The Whelk at 9:35 PM on February 27, 2010


Here is Nick doing I put a spell on you back in the day.

Also here is my favorite version.
posted by St. Sorryass at 9:43 PM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow, really, if you've got a "meh" reaction to this, I don't know what to say, seriously.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:54 PM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I got a meh reaction. It's one of the greatest, most menacing rhythm and blues songs ever put to vinyl, assisted by driving, lunatic brass and Screamin's Jay's over-the-top, operatic performance. This version replaces the brass with johnny Depp's competent but unexciting guitar playing (the guitars are duplicating the brass section.) ANd, with the talent assembled in the room, I would have hoped for something more than lukewarm performances and some gibbering from McGowan. It's the work of angels they're doing, so I'm not exactly dashing my brains out in a rage, but this feels tossed off.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:12 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


And I said to myself, what a wonderful world.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:17 PM on February 27, 2010


I hear what you're saying, AZ, but I don't know that a roomful of people (or multiple roomfuls, as the case may be) lends itself to steely menace, and I don't think that's what they're going for. My only real gripe with it is, as you said, Depp, who I'd be thrilled to see thrown out for someone more interesting (they could have glued a mustache on Jack White and just told everybody that it was Johnny Depp).
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:20 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


hm, needs more Patti Smith.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:22 PM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


(or Mark E, take your pick)
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:23 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow. Just... wow. I kind of like to imagine the hackneyed, awful version of "We are the World" going and crying in the corner like a little bitch. And kudos for choosing such a mesmerizing not-super-sappy song about a dark spell. yay!!
posted by the_royal_we at 10:23 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well. Beans enough for everyone here, I guess.

Me? Liked it very much. How does a USA person order this?
posted by Splunge at 11:55 PM on February 27, 2010


In fairness, you may be amongst those who believe that Shane MacGowan is an unkillable demon from the hoary netherworld. I am forced to admit that there is considerable evidence for this position.

Shane MacGowan knocked me over once in a London club (1995, I think). It was a grand opening with free champagne on offer and I foolishly got between him and the bar.

As for the fresh take on SPELL, I certainly didn't mean to dis it with my link to Screamin' Jay's original, just felt it was somehow relevant and/or educational. I actually quite liked what I heard, though I have a few issues with what I saw. All these genuinely cool as fuck STARS ripping it up for all the right reasons, looking like GODs (or perhaps demons) ....

Maybe, I just needed to see someone like Neil Diamond throwing in, or perhaps Tom Jones.
posted by philip-random at 12:29 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


maybe i just watched something different than all you guys, cuz i thought that fucking ruled.
posted by nadawi at 1:18 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


the charity single is a weird beast and i can't think of any i've ever heard that's actually worked as a piece of music. and this one's no different. the problem is that there's this convention of sharing the vocal between a large cast of players who all get a line each or whatever, so there's no emotional continuity to the song, and at worst all you get is a series of voices attempting to outdo each either.

but it's not really about music is it?
posted by peterkins at 1:32 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am so, so glad that this exists to balance out the unrelenting awfulness of "We Are The World 25". I mean, it's not great - it's good and kind of kicks ass in parts - but it's so much better than that unspeakable abortion that it's more than enough. I just wish poor Brian Wilson would have been on this one instead. Mr. Wilson, sir, I respect you like a God, but man, if you didn't fire your management after that or at least get some of Dennis' old Manson buddies to rough them up or something, you must just be senile.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:32 AM on February 28, 2010


"One can have great concern for the people of Ethiopia without inflicting daily torture on the people of England." - Morrissey, on Bob Geldof and Band Aid, for which he was widely pilloried at the time but has since been pretty much vindicated
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:40 AM on February 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


you may be amongst those who believe that Shane MacGowan is an unkillable demon from the hoary netherworld

When asked (not in so many words) how he still walks among us, he once replied "I have the constitution for it". Some people, whether they just have superhuman livers or are naturally resistant to physical punishment, just have the constitution for it. I mean, he looks like he's constantly about to keel over and die and his mouth looks like he tried to fellate a ditch-witch, so it's not like anyone gets out unscathed (exhibit B: Keith Richards), but he can survive long-term abuse that would kill most people for whatever reason.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:44 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


oh, fuck, thanks to this thread, radiosilents made us listen to we are the world 25 and ew. just ew and ick and ew some more. i mean, i found the first one to be tasteless and classless and gross and utterly missing the point, but put up against this recent travesty, the original almost seems down right restrained. fuck.


(the original has one singular saving grace - above and beyond the money raised - which is the story of bruce springsteen's arrival - "all artists who performed on "We are the World" turned up at the studio in Limousines - except Bruce Springsteen, who arrived driving a pickup truck.")
posted by nadawi at 2:02 AM on February 28, 2010


possily the strangest charity song ive come across. wortjy cause etc, but sheesh...
posted by peterkins at 2:38 AM on February 28, 2010


I thought that was Mick Jones playing the telecaster on that. I love that he can look like a semi-retired accountant and still be a bad-ass guitar player. Thanks for the Stereogum link to confirm.

Yes, Screamin' Jay Hawkins owns I Put A Spell on You. No one should ever try to top it. But it is nice to hear it played and, given the link to Haiti relief it is an appropriate, if gutsy (from a mainstream culture perspective), choice.
posted by mmahaffie at 6:13 AM on February 28, 2010


For those of you who are griping about the recent We are the World, don't worry, they tried again.*






As interpreted through SNL

posted by Atreides at 7:03 AM on February 28, 2010


> I got a meh reaction.

The point was to sell copies as broadly as possible, which is helped by packing as many celebrities past their prime (and I say this with love; most of them are still on regular rotation on my stereo) as they could fit.

So they couldn't go where Screamin' Jay Hawkins went, and they weren't going to try. It still has its moments. Chrissy Hynde gave me a chill; the cascades of screaming voices helped the fright night ambiance; and Shane bellowing like no earthly being should kicked things off on the right note, cartoonishness and all.

This is a horror movie edited and dubbed for prime time television. I can enjoy it for that, when it's well-done for what it is.
posted by ardgedee at 7:16 AM on February 28, 2010


Well, their hearts were in the right place, but I do think I'll bypass the single continue with the direct donation route.

My reaction wasn't "meh" so much as—what is that phrase you people use? "kill it with fire?" The Hynde verse was bearable. Ish.
posted by wreckingball at 7:41 AM on February 28, 2010


I first heard "I put a spell on you" with Screamin' Jay Hawkins in Jim Jarmusch's film "Stranger than Paradise". A fond memory.

This was enjoyable, and although Peterkins is right that giving each singer a line lessens the drama, in this case it was novel to think of the phenomenon of obsessive jealous love as something that could affect anybody; young, old, male, female. Although thinking that completely distracts me from thinking about earthquake relief.
posted by acrasis at 7:43 AM on February 28, 2010


When you said Depp was on guitar, I expected Cry Baby Walker. (And Traci Lords on triangle!). It's a shame about all that plaid, really.

It might not be a patch on the original, but I could stand to hear this plastered all over the airwaves. And the video is worth seeing for Cave's receding hairline, and Shane's receding... teethline. (Chrissie Hynde... what a woman.)
posted by tuckshopdilettante at 8:24 AM on February 28, 2010


Note! WARNING: song contains sax solo.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:00 AM on February 28, 2010


I wonder if this song was chosen as either (or both)
1) a nod to the Vodou culture in Haiti,
2) a poke in the eye to at the American evangelicals who've claimed Vodou as the cause of the earthquake.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:09 AM on February 28, 2010


2) a poke in the eye to at the American evangelicals who've claimed Vodou as the cause of the earthquake.

That's my interpretation. In fact, the whole thing thing seems like a big fuck you to whole shit load of people including Pat Robertson and everyone attached to the horrific We Are the World debacle. I mean, compare Johnny Depp's passable guitar solo to Vince Vaughn standing there like a dumbshit in the World video. I think this was punk as fuck and I love it.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:47 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Speaking of multi-celeb records released for all the right reasons but man what a weird affect, this take on Lou Reed's Perfect Day has always left me nothing if not confused.

Try to make it to at least 1:24.
posted by philip-random at 10:23 AM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


.

(that's a goosebump)
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:01 AM on February 28, 2010


But it does need more fire-extinguisher. (1:04)
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:09 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The take on the song felt very 80s, which is not a terrible thing to me.
posted by immlass at 11:14 AM on February 28, 2010


Cave is not "in his prime".

Having seen him on his 2008 tour, I would suggest he is not totally out of his prime, either. He can still raise goosebumps.
posted by 3.2.3 at 10:12 AM on March 1, 2010


Cave is not "in his prime".

There is no moss on Nick Cave. The man is maturing with grace a la Leonard Cohen. You would prefer he did a Mick Jagger?
posted by philip-random at 12:20 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, my Cave is not "in his prime" comment was part of a dialogue with idiopath, and was referenced in that way because it's something idiopath first brought up. That's why "in his prime" was in quotation marks. You couldn't see that? Not especially perceptive of you. It wasn't ever a 'point' of mine, and aside from the pitchiness I mentioned, I certainly (unlike idiopath) didn't have any special problem with Cave's performance. And no, I wouldn't prefer he "did a Mick Jagger". Kind of a jerky thing to say, that. But I guess since you misread me, I should take it with that particular grain of salt.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:25 PM on March 1, 2010


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