Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Weight - Birthday Countdown: Day 2

If you're paying attention, you'll be wondering where Day 3 went on the countdown. Well, to be honest, there won't be a Day 3 because my math isn't so good. Our one year birthday falls on this Monday January 28th, so technically that makes today, Saturday, two days from the big day. So we've really been off by a day this whole time (insert nervous laughter here). So to make up for the clerical error, and the skipping of a day, I'll be presenting two covers tonight to make up for it.

Both of tonight's covers are of the same Jackson Browne tune, "These Days", that he wrote when he was just sixteen years old. The lyrics are incredibly mature for someone of that age. They describe the impacts of the loss of a relationship. It was famously first recorded and released by German underground legend Nico, on her October 1967 album Chelsea Girl. Proving the respect that many artists had for Browne as a songwriter, "These Days" was recorded in 1968 by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on their album Rare Junk, by Tom Rush on his 1970 album Tom Rush, by Kenny Loggins' first band, Gator Creek, around the same time, and by Iain Matthews on his 1973 album Valley Hi.

Greg Allman, a good friend of Jackson Browne in Los Angeles, recorded a version of the song for his initial and most well known solo album Laid Back, released in the Fall of 1973. Rolling Stone praised the treatment, saying Allman "does full justice to the quietly hurting lyrics, double-tracking the vocal over a sad steel guitar," and calling the vocal quality "resigned" and "eternally aching." From the perspective of 1999, writer Anthony DeCurtis called Allman's version "definitive". The Allman Brothers Band included the song for the first time in their concerts, featuring it on their March 2005 "Beacon run" with Gregg Allman and Warren Haynes both playing acoustic guitar and sharing dual vocals.

Tyler Ramsey, current touring guitarist for indie favorites Band of Horses, recorded "These Days" for his third studio album, A Long Dream about Swimming Across the Sea, released on January 15, 2008. His vocal treatment of the song is very reminiscient of BoH lead singer Ben Bridwell's haunting, echo-laden stylings. Ramsey was hired by Band of Horses to replace Robin Perringer, who departed rather abruptly in October 2006. Tyler served as the opening act on the band's 2007 tour and also filled in with the band during their headline set.

Please enjoy both of these cover versions. Anthony DeCurtis may have called Allman's version "definitive" in 1999, but he hadn't yet heard Tyler Ramsey's take on it. I think he might now want to rethink that. Judge for yourself:

Gregg Allman - These Days

Tyler Ramsey - These Days


Nico - These Days

Elliott Smith - These Days

Counting Crows - These Days - Jackson Browne

St. Vincent - These Days

Video of Jackson Browne performing "These Days" for an AOL session in September 2002

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