over the last several months, i’ve blogged about derek webb’s latest innovative project called democracy vol. 1. several months ago, fans could cast votes for up to 12 songs that they wanted webb to cover. then, the 12 songs receiving the most votes would be covered by webb for the album. the album will then be recorded over the span of 2010, with 1 track being recorded and released each month. over the past 4 months, webb released the first three tracks, which was the beatles’ while my guitar gently weeps, a so-so version of coldplay’s fix you, a pretty good version of bob dylan’s the times they are a-changin’ and an incredible version of gnarls barkley’s who’s gonna save my soul.
may’s track is sufjan stevens’ magnum opus chicago from his breakthrough 2005 release, illinois. for those who know sufjan’s work, you know it’s difficult to categorize it. simply put, he’s more or less defined his own genre, mixing horns and strings and spirituality and indie sensibilities. from a spiritual standpoint, there’s no artist that has been able to offer a point-of-view as straight-forwardly “christian”, yet be so lyrically accessible to people of any faith variety. whereas i didn’t vote for chicago, i was certainly glad to see it made the cut.
all in all, webb’s version is pretty good. towards the end, particularly, the instrumentation/arrangement begins to sound like something from the 60s or 70s. there’s some kind of repeating guitar riff in there that just sounds woodstock-ish to me. but anyway, it’s good. i’m not sure if it’s great, but definitely a solid cover. ultimately, the track, more than anything, shows you just how good sufjan is and how great his arrangement is.
but alas, don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself. here’s the track.
derek webb / chicago: