Sunday, May 6, 2012

Original and cover:Song To The Siren

 Song to the Siren was a song originally performed by Tim Buckley on his sixth album, Starsailor. The most famous performance of this song was on the Monkees' show in 1968. The song references Greek mythology. Sirens were dangerous creatures who lured sailors with their music and voices to shipwreck on their island. In early Greek art Sirens were represented as birds with large women's heads, bird feathers and scaly feet. Later, they were represented as female figures with the legs of birds, with or without wings, playing a variety of musical instruments, especially harps. They were later portrayed to look like mermaids, the spanish word sirena means mermaid. This song is hauntingly beautiful with a simple folk melody. Tim sounds very sad when he sings it here. It's a superb song. Here's the original song.
This song stands as a classic and is Tim Buckley's most well-known song. Many covers exist, though none is more famous than that from the band This Mortal Coil. As I have posted about in a previous entry, This Mortal Coil is a collective group of musicians more than an actual band. All revolve around the 4AD label. They include artists from bands such as Throwing Muses, Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance. On their debut album, It'll End In Tears, this song was covered by Elizabeth Fraser on vocals and Robin Guthrie on guitar, both from the band Cocteau Twins. This is one of the most beautiful recordings ever. As much as I like the original version, nothing compares to this. They made it more ethereal sounding and haunting. Robin's dreamlike guitar work, and Elizabeth's enchanting voice just make this one of the best recordings I have ever heard and it brings me to tears every time I hear it. This also spent 101 weeks on the UK Indie Charts in 1983-1984, it was the #4 longest run on the indie charts in the 80s, right behind Bela Lugosi's Dead by Bauhaus, Blue Monday by New Order and Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division. That's excellent company to be in. The song continues to live on most famously in the David Lynch movie Lost Highway and the Peter Jackson directed film The Lovely Bones in a lovely scene toward the end of the movie. Here is that classic version from This Mortal Coil.
This song was also covered by Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance on his last solo tour (with Robin Guthrie). Robin himself plays guitar on this. A good version but nothing like the one from This Mortal Coil.  I love Brendan Perry and Dead Can Dance and this is just beautiful. It's just hard to compare with the perfection that is the This Mortal Coil version. This song is just so great and I love all these versions. So heartfelt and real.

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