I’ve been at a loss of what to discuss on this blog as of late. I like to have days worth of content sitting in the queue waiting to be posted. Now I’m writing this post only the afternoon before posting. I saw this link posted on Facebook (thanks Brennan from The Cheap Speakers), and though I’m not a fan of Ben Folds, I’m quite the fan of Elliott Smith. I was interested to hear Folds’ take on the classic song, “Say Yes.” Yes, you have to sit through a beer commercial… and it’s for a bad beer.
Why don’t I think it works? Well, first off, Folds seems to be rushing the song. He’s chugging through a song with incredible emotional depth, and none of that is conveyed in his performance, and that, to me, is the ultimate sin of this performance. Where’s the heft? Where’s the sorrow? Where’s the aching? In Smith’s album version there’s a hollowness to his vocals, achieved in the double-tracking which separates the listener from the performance.
I figured why not listen to other performances. Rika Shinohara and Valery Gore performed it in Japan years ago.
This time it’s a performer I’m actually a fan of. I’ve been a fan of Valery Gore’s since shortly after the release of her debut, self-titled record. In this version Shinohara and Gore trade off vocals and while the lead guitar is a bit too fluffy and airy for my tastes, the rhythm I think suits the song. Shinohara’s got some emotion in her voice, but Gore’s performance is, much like Folds’, without any serious emotional depth.
I could then also compare it to this version:
Okay, so this is a bit of a cheat, as the performer is the songwriter, Elliott Smith. While it also feels rushed, like Folds’ version, and his vocal performance is far from perfect, Smith is expressive in his performance.
Either way, none of them compare to the album version.