Why Everett True is sort of wrong… er… well, not exactly right… partially right yet partially not… oh well… whatever… nevermind…
How did I react when I read Everett’s take on ‘Lithium’, then?
I laughed. And then I laughed again.
I laughed not because he was making a fool of himself or because he was saying patently stupid things. I laughed because of the insinuations, most particularly that they were a bunch of jocks, that they made lots of money making bland music, that they were the sort of band/people who stood in direct contradiction of what Kurt believed in. The members of the band I count as my friends are warm, loving, caring people, very talented musically and in other aspects of their life, and not at all the sort that Kurt railed against. One is gay, one is leftist, one is a woman, all of them people worth knowing, and almost all of them Nirvana fans.
The trombonist of the video was in the audience at the infamous Nirvana show in Dallas where Kurt got in a fight with the bouncer. I believe that members of Tripping Daisy were at that show, too.
Aside from my friendships with the band, I like their version of ‘Lithium’ because it takes the idea of ‘quiet/loud’ to a Technicolor level. When the band explodes on the choruses, it’s simply a magical experience. The original version has an intensity based around its simplicity of arrangement, but I like that The Polyphonic Spree turn it up one notch louder. I don’t think that DeLaughter and company are trying to suck the life out of it; if anything, they’re trying to make it even livelier. In my mind, they succeed. And I’m not a fan of Vampire Weekend.
And I will say that the point about the absurdity of the video is a valid one. I love their take on the song; most covers are mere karaoke of the original, but theirs is not. I hate that video, because it takes away from the power of the studio version of the song. Besides, the Polyphonic Spree are a band meant to be experienced LIVE, and in person — and the intensity and the power of the song is lost in a YouTube presentation.
I love them but I’m not afraid to say I don’t like something they do. ‘Lithium’ is something they got right. Their cover of ‘Love My Way’, however, needs to be forgotten about. I would never be presumptuous enough to say, “Oh, Kurt would have LOVED/HATED this cover version,” though I take Mr. True’s opinion well above others in this regard.
Everett’s entitled to his opinion, and I think it’s pretty clear that his feelings towards ‘Lithium’ come from a place neither you nor I can appreciate. I think his overall opinion about the band is wrong based upon the cover, but I know the futility in trying to prove otherwise. Simply take it for what it is, if ya hate it, that’s fine, well, move on with your life, know that it doesn’t represent the breadth of the magic that is The Polyphonic Spree, or simply tell me to fuck off. Doesn’t matter anyway. I just don’t think anyone was trying to suck out, water down, or destroy Cobain’s legacy, nor do I think you must be a shithead or an idiot or whatever other statements were made describing a Polyphonic Spree fan.
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