My default first choice is Fiona Apple’s remarkable live rendition of Elvis Costello’s ‘I Want You’ (with Elvis accompanying on electric guitar). I love that performance enough to have chosen it as my 1,000th Song of the Day, so it is therefore ineligible today.
I also considered Counting Crows’ delightful take on Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi,’ Gary Jules’ somber performance of Tears For Fears’ ‘Mad World,’ and Sarah Slean’s gorgeous live rendition of Radiohead’s ‘Climbing Up the Walls’.
Plus about 500 other worthy contenders.
But I decided to go with a song I just discovered last week when my sister posted it to her Facebook page (she’ll probably be mad at me for stealing her pick!). It’s a live performance of Roberta Flack’s ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ by Miley Cyrus.
The song is a perfect vehicle for Cyrus’ impressive vocals, and she really pours herself into it. This clip captures what I love about a great cover: it’s completely random and unexpected, but suddenly feels essential.
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars
Were the gifts you gave
To the dark, and the endless skies
And the first time, ever I kissed your mouth
I felt the earth move in my hands
Like the trembling heart
Of a captive bird
That was there, at my command
And the first time, ever I lay with you
I felt your heart so close to mine
And I knew our joy
Would fill the earth
And last, til the end of time
The first time, ever I saw