guilty pleasure monday: pictures of matchstick men (camper van beethoven)

hey, at least i didn’t choose take the skinheads bowling.

yeah, i know. i’ve ranted for years about inadequate song covers. and i would be remiss if i didn’t point out that this is a cover of an excellent psychedelic single by a still-extant UK band called status quo. to be sure,Ā  camper van’s critically acclaimed album from 1989 key lime pie could stand all on it’s own merits without this cover ((i was born in a) laundromat is classic) — but to me, pictures of matchstick men just puts it over the top. the quivering violin removes the psychedelia from the song, to be sure, but it adds a certain earthy grittiness that was absolutely of its time. i regularly drive BS insane by randomly breaking into that riff — with my voice imitating the violin in what must be the sound equivalent of seinfeld‘s elaine’s dance.

and then, of course, there’s david lowery, who founded camper van and cracker — two bands i’ve adored for a long, long time. (besides the famous teen angst, which smells WAY better than teen spirit, cracker performed an excellent cover of jerry garcia’s loser (bringing the latter into a doldrom-laden territory where i wondered whether it was recorded in a meth lab.)) there’s something about his voice that seems more approachable and unpolished — in a very good way.

i understand that cracker and camper van play around from time to time. i only saw cracker once (in the early ’90s, pre-kids, of course), which is one more time than i ever saw camper van.Ā  it looks like they have a weekend fest in california in some place called pioneertown. gee whiz, i wonder whether we could just bring the kids šŸ˜‰

now that i’ve pinched myself and woken up from that thought… i can always hope that they come back to our area someday.

at least i still have the CDs…


5 Responses to “guilty pleasure monday: pictures of matchstick men (camper van beethoven)”

  1. I love, love, love that song! And I hadn’t realized it was a cover. I’ll have to check out the original.

    I tend to like covers, at least if they are interesting interpretations. I guess all too many, though, are lackluster imitations of the original. I have a Pixies tribute album, for example, that was a huge disappointment. It just sounded like the Pixies on a bad day. But I’m Your Fan, the Leonard Cohen tribute album, has some amazing versions that I like as much as the originals. (Actually, I like R.E.M.’s “First We Take Manhattan” better than the original. Is that sacrilege?)

  2. not sacrilege — i like that too, lol.

    i like some covers — and hell, some covers actually top the originals (“all along the watchtower” being the poster child for this, IMHO – hendrix completely annihilates dylan’s original — in a fantastc way.) i’m just picky-picky about it. the covers need to do something original or interesting, as you pointed out. that’s why some tribute albums irk me, too šŸ™‚ (though one tribute album cut that i always enjoy is janes addiction’s version of the dead’s “ripple.”)

  3. I’m trolling through all your music posts at this point. Camper Van was the first concert i saw at college in Montreal in 1989…they were touring to support Key Lime Pie. It was very cool and this song has always been a favorite. I occasionally hear the Status Quo version and it is a weird sensation to clue into the lyrics and eventually figure out its Pictures of Matchstick Men.

  4. hey ted – glad you’re here šŸ™‚ feel free to enjoy, or throw a fit, or something in between! i’m always bummed i missed camper van, though i have seen cracker, which is sorta kinda close. right?

  5. I have got trouble viewing your site layout via the most recent version of Opera. It is fine in Explorer 7 and Firefox however.

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