Influence and Imitation


I get obsessed by songs. When I get one into my head I have to play it again and again until it resumes normal proportions in my consciousness. This can take days or weeks.

My latest amoureuse is Sweet Jane by the Cowboy Junkies.  It has already been days and no sign of getting over it. It was released in ’88 and it has taken me 19 years to get around to listening to it.

It is an oblique quotation of the Live Version of the Song on Lou Reed’s Rock and Roll Animal. It is so delicate and reverential and haunting.  

It only quotes a couple of lines from the original and adds new lyrics:

Anyone who ever had a dream
Anyone’s who’s ever played a part
Anyone who’s ever been lonely
And anyone who’s ever split apart
Sweet Jane

The original line is:  line 2.  The others come from the Cowboy Junkies.

I thought about that:  this is not copying, this is interpreting.  All the best influences are more than copies.  I think that this insight impacts on my professional life:  take something and make it your own and you can transform the original.  Be inspired by something, is so much a richer experience than copying something out.

Other lines had a more direct impact.  I have done so much travelling recently and the line:
‘Waiting down there on the corner,  thinking of ways to get back home’
 resonates very powerfully.

I guess the CJs are giving us insights into the song and adding a new dimension to original. That is a worthy effort.


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