Bought solely out of curiosity for what David Byrne would make of Rockin' in the Free World. I always like it when people I like, apparently from disparate fields, show appreciation for each other. It reassures that there is some coherence to my taste after all. Like when Laurie Anderson picked out Alan Rudolph and Peter Greenaway as her favourite directors of the moment (the moment being late eighties — what a shame that Rudolph, in particular, has done little of note since then, notwithstanding giving Neil Young a couple of acting roles). Or James teaming up with Brian Eno — which no longer seems like an unusual pairing, but it did at first. Or James supporting Neil Young on tour, as they did in early nineties.
The catch is that Byrne's Rockin'… is an unremarkable affair. On the one hand he seems too respectful of the song to do anything new and interesting with it. On the other, he won't allow himself to do any real rockin', so his version lacks the chugging inevitability of the original.
I saw Byrne on the Uh-Oh tour, from which the three live songs on this EP are taken, and he didn't do Rockin' in the Free World that night, but he did a pretty stunning version of Sympathy for the Devil, solo and possibly acoustic. Kind of a shame that he didn't put that out instead.
And that tour also featured the one bit of merchandise that I most regret not buying: small packets of David Byrne golf tees. Hmmm, I wonder if they're on eBay? I've saved a search.
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