Song Of The Day 5/16/2014: Donny Hathaway - "Jealous Guy"


Quarterly Covers Report: I was feeling kind of meh about the song that was originally scheduled to go in this slot today, as it was a cover I'd only heard once (but liked a lot)*, and would have necessitated my discussing a somewhat calamitous aspect regarding the health of one of the performers, and I'd rather save up my gloomy writing for my investigation of twelve songs by the Smiths which I'm doing on assignment today and tomorrow. However that's fine, because Donny Hathaway's cover of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy" came up in conversation earlier this week, and to my utter shock I went back through the Song Of The Day record book and noticed it's never been featured here. So I'm pulling the kind of last-minute editorial wizardry that would be a great, flexible, natural fit for your office, publication or digital content production, so call me now while rates are affordable!

Stated simply, the late Hathaway's version of "Jealous Guy" on his Live album is one of my favorite recordings of anybody doing anything ever. You couldn't get farther from the original, which was lovingly accessorized with string pads and John's fragile falsetto. Hathaway's version is sparse, staccato, and full of questioning space. This version is a little different than the one on Live; it goes on a little longer. The cutback New Orleans piano and rhythm remind me a lot of Elton John's "Bennie and the Jets." It's full of gristle, a reinterpretation so severe the song becomes Hathaway's at that point. I wonder if John ever heard it. I'm sure he saw the summaries on his publishing royalty reports. It's so good, if I'd written it I'd have let Donny do it for free. But I also accept payment! Fill up that office chair! Who needs interns! Operator is standing by!

* If you're wondering, it was Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey's cover of Dylan's "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window." Johnson has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer but is going down fighting. I'll reschedule it for later this year. Maybe the next QCR.
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