Sunday, December 6, 2009

Classics Revisited


There's been a cover done of Careless Whisper... 89X (my metal and alternative choice out of Detroit) plays it on the radio with some regularity. I am totally digging it. You see, though Wham was a band I would have mocked at most points in my life, they actually had a few good songs and I happened to OWN that album

(yes children, ALBUM—you see, it was 1984, and I took my RECORD PLAYER to college with me)... and the man in the record store in Eugene made me have really illicit fantasies, so I used whatever excuse I could to go in there. But I digress...

It got me thinking about 'remakes' and 'rewrites'. Some classics are so well done that frankly, it's a shame to alter them, while some only benefit from a modernization. I think it's true across art forms, actually, and I think it is worth thinking about.


Music


Back to this Careless Whisper example (Seether's Shaun Morgan in drag *claps* I knew I loved them...): Wham was pop music at its pretty boy, cheesiest best. The remake is full-on metal. In fact they've taken some guff for covering Wham. But to me it makes the reinterpretation fresh. It's possible I'm the freak that both loved Wham, and prefers heavy metal—metal being something people are supposed to give up when they get old... but I'm not old yet...

I think MOST of the current listeners were too young to remember how campy Wham really was—they don't know what most 'aged' metal listeners thought of them (though the DJs seem to). So Seether has pulled off a very clever coup and made it their own. I heard another similarly revised cover yesterday to Annie Lennox's Sweet Dreams...

I think the key is to make it different enough from the original that there is some art to it... doing it just like the original is a nice lounge act, but to record, there needs to be some creativity.


Movies

Ditto...I think here though, movies done well the first time really shouldn't be messed with, but maybe that's me. Then again, there are some remakes I like—I'm not a Tom Cruise fan, but I LIKE War of the Worlds. It seems to me usually I like remakes if I'm not familiar with the original, or when the original had several failings.

I also like some reinterpretations—some stories are timeless, and using the main PLOT while changing many of the details can make for a great movie.



So What About Books?


Back when I only wrote in the closet, and didn't talk to anybody about it, I had never even THOUGHT about reinterpreting an existing story. The first book I read that used the technique was Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire. It is a retelling a the Cinderella tale (mostly) from the view of Iris, one of the stepsisters, and is a great book. I've seen several since, and know Wicked is a similarly rewritten Wizard of Oz. My friend Tara, for her NaNoWriMo novel has written a DELIGHTFUL version of Cinderella called Cardiffella, and I really think she can make a go of it. The fresh spin and modernization are perfect, and the references to the fairy tale are tongue in cheek and humorous.

So I'm going on record saying... for ALL of them... if it is a fresh interpretation, it can be a great route for a new version. That's my story and I'm sticking with it...

2 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I totally agree. Does it bring something fresh to the table? Otherwise....leave it alone.

I used to listen to metal as a teen, too. Still like Metallica. :)

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

Watery Tart said...

Yeah--I grew up in a small enough town that the choices seemed to be hard rock or pop music, and I was NOT a pop music gal. When I got to college I dived into alternative rock, but I always kept my hard rock thing... it is nostalgic for me. LOVE metallica... *teehee*