Covered is a feature where we examine the merits of various cover songs, debating whether or not they capture the spirit and intent of the original, if the cover adds anything new, and whether or not it perhaps surpasses the original. If we fail on those counts, at the very least we may expose you to different versions of great songs you hadn’t heard before.
I’m going to kick off this feature with a true toss-up in my mind: “Another One Goes By”.
We’ll start off with the version that I imagine most people heard first, the cover as done by The Walkmen. For many, A Hundred Miles Off was a bit of disappointment, a small bump on the road between Bows + Arrows and You & Me and other later successes. The band has even shown indications that they agree with that assessment, from their interviews to their setlists, but there are some undeniable great songs on that record: “Louisiana”, live favorite “All Hands And The Cook”, and the closer “Another One Goes By”. The fact that the last one was a cover would probably come as a shock to most people, since it has all the elements of a natural Walkmen song: warm organ/bright piano, trebly guitar strums, and plaintively yearning lyrics that fit Hamilton Leithauser’s unique voice perfectly.
Here’s the original, from the band Mazarin. The immediate difference that’s apparent is the driving drumbeat that keeps the tempo up throughout the song, giving the song a drive that provides a counter to the melancholic lyrics. The added filter on the vocals give the lyrics a more haunted quality, and enhances the theme of mourning over lost opportunities. But considering the similarities in the rest of the song, it’s easy to see why it was a natural fit for The Walkmen to cover.
In the end, it’s hard to argue one or way the other which is better. It’s clear that The Walkmen were able to capture the wistful but mournful spirit of the song, but chose instead to convey this through a quiet, laid-back shuffle of a drumbeat and a more expressive vocal performance. It truly comes down to my particular mood at the moment as to which version I prefer.