Can reworked music improve on the original? By remakes I am not talking about cover versions but where the original artist reworks an old song. This is the first of a short series of blogs looking at three music artists and their remakes of old hits.
Can Reworked Music Improve On The Original?
An an artist, the idea of remakes or reworking an art piece is not alien. As artistic technique improves, or new skills are learned, sometimes an artist will remake an old favourite piece. An acrylic painting, scanned in and then worked on digitally can take a concept to whole new levels. I have done this several times. In fact I have one piece about Tristan and Isolde that I have reworked more times over the years than I care to remember. I still can’t quite get it how I want it. It is probably time I had another go! Sometimes reworking a piece provides inspiration when your creativity takes a dip – something I talked about in an earlier blog.
But what happens when you have a favourite piece of music that you know really well? I have been to music concerts and been disappointed by a favourite track when delivered live as it doesn’t have the same punch as the studio recording I am used to. Mind you, I have also heard my favourite tracks performed live and been blown away by them. But what about your favourite track being completely reworked by the original artist? Can they pull it off?
It was 1992 (ish?) and I was in Bonn, Germany for work. I had a few hours to kill in my hotel room and switched on the television. I only speak a few words of German so was nearly at the point of switching it off again when I came across the MTV Channel. Now music I can understand! A programme came on called ‘Unplugged‘ and it featured Eric Clapton.
Layla – Original
Little did I know that I was watching the birth of the best-selling live album of all time! It was a great concert but when Eric broke into an acoustic version of ‘Layla’ I was in raptures.
The original track ‘Layla’ made the Top Ten in the USA and the UK in 1972. Recorded by Derek and the Dominoes, with Eric Clapton as guitarist and singer, the song is about unrequited love. To be precise, Eric’s infatuation with Pattie Boyd who was married to George Harrison. The song was triggered initially by a love story that Eric read about a young man who fell hopelessly in love with a girl but went crazy and so couldn’t marry her. But it is said that it really resonnated with Eric (who eventually did go on to marry Patti Boyd by the way some years later). He channelled all his depth of emotion into the song.
‘Layla’ is considered one of the greatest rock tunes of all time. And you can really feel the emotion coming through, alongside those great guitar riffs. Have a listen, if you have never heard it before you are in for a treat!
Layla – Unplugged
Some 20 years later, there I was listening to Eric Clapton re-interpret this great piece of musical history. The acoustic version is slowed down and Eric sings it in a lower octave. It is so different to the original that he actually introduces the track with the words “See if you can spot this one”. Seductive, slightly jazz-inspired, with the frenetic energy of the first version. It is a triumph. See what you think.
So. To return to my original question. Can reworked music improve on the original? In this case no! Eric Clapton did better than that. He actually created a second classic version of the same track that ranks equally alongside.
In my next blog I will look at a track by Rick Astley.
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!