TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2015|
Posted by: Evan Jake Goldstein
Father John Misty's Cover of Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" off her album 1989 comes in the wake of Ryan Adam's Cover of the entire album. Father John Misty's (J. Tillman) twist was to perform it in the style of the Velvet Underground. Tillman begins the song with what is essentially the riff for "I'm Waiting For My Man" and adapts Swift's lyrics to fit Lou Reed's phrasing and rhythm astonishingly well and does a pretty killer impression in the process.
I'm a massive sucker for these kind of genre mashups and, as a New York City guy, anything having to do with Lou or the Velvets. I even went out of my way to see The Pizza Underground live because I get such a kick out of the reimagining of such classic and distinctive material! So needless to say, when I heard Tillman was doing a cover in the style of the Velvets, I was thrilled, and I was, grinning like an idiot up until about the three minute mark. Around there I started checking how much time was remaining on the song, and then checking again about every thirty seconds after that. The track comes out to just shy of six minutes long which I found to be a bit much considering Swift's original was 4:30 and Adams cover was 3:20.
Don't get me wrong, I love the Velvet's long songs ("Oh Sweet Nuthin", "Heroin"); the difference between songs like those and "Blank Space" is that no matter who is performing it, "Blank Space" is a pop song in even its truest form and is therefore repetitive in nature. That type of repetition does not easily work well with Reed's phrasing (i.e. his later solo work) which is why I'm a big fan of Adam's cover because he recognized it was a pop song and realized if he wanted to genre hop, he would have to trim it accordingly.
The bottom line is Tillman does a great impression. He successfully captures Reed's tone and nails it 100%...for the first three minutes. I realize that this cover is probably done somewhat in jest by Tillman [Ed. Note: I'm guessing it's 100% likely that it's done in jest], so we can't take it too seriously. Send the YouTube link to your friends who are big Velvet Underground fans or your friend who you discovered I Love You, Honeybear with who's convinced Tillman is the future of songwriting; they'll get a kick out of it.