Peter Gabriel's "Scratch My Back" (or I'll link to you if you link to me)
Peter Gabriel's new CD "Scratch My Back" is interesting for a couple of reasons. One is that it has a cover of the Neil Young song "Philadelphia" from the Jonathan Demme film of the same title.
The other dimension to this is the one that is being most discussed in the music business. That is -- with plummeting sales -- what are we going to do? Doing song covers is certainly not a new phenomenon by any stretch. They're done for a myriad reasons. Artists pay homage. They like the song. Help raise awareness and expand an audience. A nice way to say thank you for helping me one day.
And we'll come back to this in a moment on why -- as a blogger -- we find this relevant.
From Peter Gabriel's website article by Nige Tassell:
"The project is groundbreaking for two reasons. Firstly, it's a collaboration. All the artists whose songs Peter has recorded here are returning the favour by each recording a song of his. The fruits of this exchange - or song swap - will be heard on a forthcoming companion volume, I'll Scratch Yours. 'The intention,' explains Peter, 'was that we would each do the songs in our own idiosyncratic way.'
Secondly, these songs have been approached from an angle that's rather revolutionary. Peter's usual band have been dispensed with on this project, leaving his voice accompanied solely by orchestral instruments. The approach makes for some radical reinterpretations. 'After all,' protests the album's arranger John Metcalfe, 'what's the point of covers that don't make any effort- So many are just really the same song with a different singer. Here was an opportunity - particularly as it was orchestral - not to do that, to reinterpret these songs with integrity.'"
From Los Angeles Times:
"There seems to be two motivations behind Peter Gabriel's new album, one playful and the other more serious. The first gives the project its title: Gabriel covered compositions by 12 working artists, including David Bowie, Neil Young, Arcade Fire and the Magnetic Fields. He also invited them to plumb his own catalog for an upcoming answer record titled 'I'll Scratch Yours.'
Some have called this proposition opportunistic, a way for Gabriel to both reassert his place alongside more iconic elders and make a DNA connection with arty youngsters. In fact, the gesture's more natural for Gabriel than it's been for most sexagenarians who've sought a lift from the kids. He's a lifelong collaborator whose WOMAD festivals and Real World label have cultivated a serious international music community; and his current nonmusical projects, like the Hub ('a YouTube for human rights'), imagine Internet-driven connectivity as a kind of potlatch.
More questionable is Gabriel's rendering of his half of the exchange. Instead of highlighting what younger artists actually seem to love about his own work -- its cosmopolitan spirit, written in the rhythms of soul, qawwali and Afrobeat -- Gabriel has gone for an exceedingly Western art song approach. No bass, no drums from the man who gave us 'Sledgehammer'? Why?
I'd guess that Gabriel has a higher goal, as usual."
Now back to why we think this is relevant here.
As regular visitors know by now, one thing we do here is link over to other blogs. And they link back. Same concept of back scratching.
To point out the obvious, it's trying to create a virtuous circle. By now it seems a lot of folks are on Facebook and the concept works the same. Be my friend and I'll be yours. Build the network for what ever your reason.
So, link to our blog and we'll link back to yours. Or -- in the words of some singer-song writer from back in the 1970's, be on my side and i'll be on your side.
There is no reason for you to hide.
And back over to Peter Gabriel's "Philadelphia" cover:
Bruce Springsteen's contribution to the soundtrack of Philadelphia was the more celebrated, but this Neil Young track was surely the most beautiful. This version marks Scratch My Back's tenderest moment, its gently undulating melody matched by the empathetic delivery of Young's lyrics. Gorgeous trumpet solo too.
Listen to sample tracks of Peter Gabriel's "Scratch My Back" and the Neil Young song "Philadelphia" on Amazon.com.
And here's one of the all-time high career points: Neil Young at the 1994 Oscar ceremonies playing "Philadelphia".