Song of the Day #1,512: ‘Don’t Let It Bring You Down’ – Annie Lennox

I’ve always been dismissive of people who say things like “I like Bob Dylan’s music, I just wish I could hear it sung by somebody else.”

For me, Dylan’s voice is as much a part of his music as the chords, lyrics and instrumentation. While an occasional cover can be interesting, I no more want to hear Dylan’s catalog sung by others than I want to watch a foreign film dubbed into English.

Now I’m going to reveal myself as a tremendous hypocrite, because after listening to today’s SOTD, I would love to hear the entire Neil Young catalog sung by Annie Lennox.

Of all the “difficult” voices out there, I have the biggest problem with Neil Young’s. His thin whine is worse than nails on a chalkboard. He sounds like an old woman after a hit of helium. And though I know he’s a terrific songwriter, I simply can’t stand his songs.

Take a listen to the original version of today’s SOTD, ‘Don’t Let It Bring You Down,’ and then give Annie Lennox’s elegant cover version a try. Ah, that’s better.

But leave Bob Dylan alone!

Old man lying by the side of the road
With the lorries rolling by,
Blue moon sinking from the weight of the load
And the building scrape the sky,
Cold wind ripping down the allay at dawn
And the morning paper flies,
Dead man lying by the side of the road
With the daylight in his eyes.

Don’t let it bring you down
It’s only castles burning,
Find someone who’s turning
And you will come around.

Blind man running through the light of the night
With an answer in his hand,
Come on down to the river of sight
And you can really understand,
Red lights flashing through the window in the rain,
Can you hear the sirens moan?
White cane lying in a gutter in the lane,
If you’re walking home alone.

Don’t let it bring you down
It’s only castles burning,
Just find someone who’s turning
And you will come around.

Don’t let it bring you down
It’s only castles burning,
Just find someone who’s turning
And you will come around.

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,512: ‘Don’t Let It Bring You Down’ – Annie Lennox

  1. pegclifton says:

    I agree completely!

  2. Amy says:

    I think the exception to not wanting to hear a song covered by a singer is if the singer is an artist in his or her own right. When a “voice” covers a song written and performed by an artist who might have a lesser voice, in whatever way such things can be measured, the result is vapid, empty.

    When a true artist covers a song which has inspired her in some way, the song takes on a new character, one that reveals what the original artist intended and adds the new layers provided by the cover artist. The truly great voices – Frank Sinatra and Barbara Streisand – were truly great because they brought that ability to interpret to every song they covered (since they were ALL covers).

    Today’s song I could take or leave by either Young or Lennox, but I do tend to agree with your point. 🙂

  3. Dana says:

    Young’s voice doesn’t bother me as much as it does for you. Certainly, it has that whiny/falsetto quality and technical shortcomings. But technical vocal shortcomings abound for other artists we both love, including Folds, Newman and Dylan. And Amy and my dislike for Wainwright’s voice is well documented here, despite his accomplished songwriting ability, as is your dislike for Mitchell.

    With those noted exceptions in mind, though, I think our default is to gravitate toward the original performed by the singer/songwriter because it reveals the soul of those artists that a cover does not. Often times, that performance is more stripped down, acoustic and that is what those of us who truly love the singer/songwriter (and have our radio set to The Coffee House) crave. So, for me, I would take Young’s version of this song over Lennox’s because it displays those qualities–less instrumentation, stripped down acoustic with the soul, passion and intent and “voice” of the writer shining through.

    Having said that, Lennox is a fine artist and a wonderful vocalist and so, if I am going to hear someone cover a great song, she is certainly a good one to provide that interpretation.

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