What type of flattery can an artist ask for than to be covered by another band? On this weeks Covered series we take a look at Punk rock legends Iggy Pop and the Stooges cover of “You Better Run.”
These past two weeks we have been looking at one of my favorite Blues artists Junior Kimbrough. To check out covers by the Black Keys and Spiritualized check them out here and here. A Mississippi born and raised musician, all of his talents were self taught. He started learning the guitar by age 8. He could listen to a song once and than play it perfectly. Not only that, just playing a song once he could commit it to memory. Junior would say that he always had songs bubbling around in his head and if he didn’t play it as soon as he thought of a song, the song would be lost for forever. Can you just imagine how many more good songs could have been lost to the universe because Junior decided to go eat dinner instead of pick up his guitar?
For this weeks cover I decided to take a look at punk rock legend and all around skin and bones walking doll of sex Iggy Pop. (Okay, the sex part was pry a bit too far) Real names James Newell Osterberg Jr, Iggy Pop is argued as one of the forefathers of the Punk rock movement. His band, the Stooges would go on to become one of record label Elektra’s highest grossing bands of the ’70’s. Pop was also the first person to stage dive, display himself on stage and vomit at the audience. Not the most noteworthy of things sure but for Punk rock it was
fucking awesome! Iggy Pop would break up the Stooges at the end of the 70’s due to his Heroin addiction, but would later go on to record with the likes of David Bowie, RCA Records, and find his way into being an music Icon. In fact, one of my favorite Iggy Pop recordings would be in 2006 with the group The Teddy Bears and his song Punk Rocker. That song gave me the same eerie chill that was given to me by Johnny Cash’s cover of Hurt. In 2002 the Stooges were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recognizing their influence on the music industry.
For me to say that Iggy Pop is a true music connosieur and is one of the most appreciative men of music in all of its form is hard to say. I always saw an Iggy Pop that wanted to punch your throat and than take some hard drugs and party hard. But it wasn’t until 2004 when I finally started to understand Iggy Pop and his passion for Music. In 2004 I was introduced to the great black and white movie Coffee and Cigarettes. A movie made up of vignettes recorded over 15 years about drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. The movie included many artists like Bill Murray, The White Stripes, Roberto Benigni, Cate Blanchett among others. My favorite segment from the movie though comes from the conversation between Iggy Pop and another music legend, Tom Waits. In the segment titled “Somewhere in California” the two sit down and have a conversation in where an aloof and bored Tom Waits shrugs off Iggy Pops adoration. Although it was meant to be a satire, I couldn’t but help notice the awe and reverence that Iggy Pop had for Mr. Waits. Iggy, although pry in his late 40’s, seemed like a kid meeting superman for the first time. All of his compliments seemed to be coming from his innermost depths and not just a script. It was at this moment (and a lot more research) that I learned that Iggy Pop was a true musician that understood the craft and wanted to show appreciation to the artists he loves.
Cut to 2006. In this year, Iggy Pop fell madly in love with Junior Kimbrough and his music. The fantastic in your face intensity of his attitude, the haunting lyrics, and the mad guitar skills, Iggy Pop could not stand not giving something to this man. So in 2006, Junior Kimbrough opened for Iggy Pop on his Stooges reunion tour. He also executive produced the Documentary Deep Blues and helped organize and produce the album “Sunday Nights: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough.” On that album the Stooges and Iggy Pop cover the song You Better Run.
The cover of You Better Run is simply amazing. What a lot of people tend to gloss over or forget is that much like 50’s rock music, Punk Rock is heavily influenced by blues musicians and form. Both music forms are trying to evoke an emotion, are trying to open up an artists soul and allow the listener to become deeply involved and get lost in the music. The song You Better Run is about a night when Junior Kimbrough meets a woman and runs away with here to protect herself from a man with a knife and wants to rape her. In the original version, Junior Kimbrough’s song was really intense because it dealt with a very sensitive issue and was done so solemnly and seriously. Unlike Iggy Pop, who decides to focus on the intensity of the song and goes very hard, very fast, and very punk. What I like about both versions of the song is they both convey the sense of seriousness and intensity of the issue but from two different perspectives. Seriousness from Junior and Intensity from Iggy. A great cover and appreciation to an artist that inspires.
Note: for a great review on the Album Sunday Nights: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough check out this link here posted by Blog Critics.org.