I love covers. I love when a band interprets another band’s work and makes it their own or puts a twist or spin on a already great original. It doesn’t always work, sometimes it flat out ruins the original. Today I wanted to review an album I listened to a lot growing up. It is a Original Movie Soundtrack for the film “i am sam” starring Sean Penn. In the movie the character of Sam is obsessed with the band the Beatles, this minor plot point is used thematically to show that the rich world of music beats within the handicapped character and adds depth to a powerful performance which leaves a memorable impression on the viewer. Unlike Dustin Hoffman’s famous Raymond, Sam is a deep and burdened individual who doesn’t have a super human ability with trivia and numbers he is a flawed and very much innocent father who wants what is best for his daughter which is of course for her to be with him.
The soundtrack, attached at the bottom of this post is a composition of famous the Beatles songs from all throughout the Beatles illustrious career reinterpreted by some of music’s biggest names. Rufus Wainwright does an amazing job covering Across the Universe one of my favorite the Beatles song. For the longest time the rights to the original Beatles music was closely guarded and unavailable for licensing. Sean Penn personally commissioned these covers and they do a great job paying homage to the originals. Jacob Dylan’s band the Wallflowers puts a playful take on “I’m looking through you” a lesser known Beatles song. Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam does a perfectly sanguine version of “you’ve got to hide your love away”. Honestly the whole soundtrack is pretty impressive, boasting some truly stand out performances from everyone including; Fiona Apple, to Paul Westerberg of The Replacements, to Sheryl Crow. I highly recommend putting the whole album on during a nice sit down dinner and enjoying wonderful instrumentation and elegant song crafting. I am hesitant to say that the covers outshine the originals but certainly the polish and production is impressive to say the least. Some of these artists like Ben Harper or Ben Folds, have impressive studio pedigrees and use multi-tracking to achieve an almost other worldly out of time experience. Some of these songs written in the sixties and seventies get a superficial face lift while others are stripped down to their bare bones and laid naked on the track such as Nick Cave’s re-imagining of “let it be”.
check it out for yourself.