Before I get into the One Song thing, I feel the need to post something here completely unrelated. But it’s so cool I feel the need to shoehorn it into a post. It’s “Layla” as if written and performed by Dire Straits. It’s actually done by some awesome dude named Laszlo Buring who played “drums, electric guitar, vocals, a subtle 12-string acoustic, an organ, and bass.” Incroyable!
Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled program. “One Song/Three Versions” whole point is to demonstrate how others artists can (sometimes radically) reinvent a song or to hear a guy sing a song associated with a female or vice-versa. I am a long-time, rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth Stones fan, and “Wild Horses” is one of their most popular tunes. Some backstory:
This song was recorded for 1971’s Sticky Fingers at Muscle Shoals and Olympic London studios Mick Jagger: “I remember we sat around originally doing this with Gram Parsons, and I think his version came out slightly before ours. Everyone always says this was written about Marianne (Faithfull) but I don’t think it was; that was all well over by then. But I was definitely very inside this piece emotionally.”
Keith Richards adds, “Wild Horses” was about the usual thing of not wanting to be on the road, being a million miles from where you want to be.” (I always had the feeling that wherever Keef was was where he wanted to be. – ME).
The tune features session player Jim Dickinson on tack piano,* Richards on electric guitar and 12-string acoustic guitar, and Mick Taylor on acoustic guitar.**
I am not 100% sure when exactly the Stones’ and the late Leon Russell’s paths crossed. But at some point in time, he toured with them. And Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts and Mick Jagger all performed on his eponymous solo album. Somewhere in there they recorded a version of “Wild Horses” with Leon on organ.
But the one I dig is the bonus track from his 1974 album, Stop All That Jazz. This album, like his debut, also has the proverbial cast of thousands including Willie Nelson, J.J. Cale, Carl Radle, Pete Drake and the Gap Band. Leon finds the country in this:
I’ve always loved the Indigo Girls. We saw them a few years back at an outdoor venue. I remember not being as blown away as I wanted to be. Not that they were bad but maybe I wasn’t just as familiar with their tunes as I thought. And I remember they kept changing guitars on every tune like they were Blue Oyster Cult.
Staring Down the Brilliant Dream is a live album they released a few years back. Some of the tunes feature guest vocalists. “Closer to Fine” for example features Canadian actress Jill Hennessy of Law and Order fame. Did you know she’s a musician? And she has an identical twin? Did you also know that in a perfect world she and I would be married? But I digress.
Here are the “girls” doing their version of “Caballos salvajes.”
*According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, tack piano is an altered version of an ordinary piano, in which objects such as thumbtacks or nails are placed on the felt-padded hammers of the instrument at the point where the hammers hit the strings, giving the instrument a tinny, more percussive sound. It is used to evoke the feeling of a honky-tonk piano,
**If watching a band react to a playback of their own tune floats your boat, here are the Stones doing just that from Gimme Shelter.