Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

You Can’t Kill a Good Song

I found this amazing performance of (what I thought was) an R&B tune called “Changes,” sung by Charles Bradley. I’m listening to it and just mesmerized by his palpably heartfelt and visceral rendition of this beautifully simple arrangement. It’s an incredibly great and authentic retro-soul mix of a Daptone Records production – the players are nailing it and Charles is just KILLING IT. Wow…

Then I find out “Changes” was written by Black Sabbath and recorded for their 4th album in 1972. It’s really interesting to hear these different versions back to back. First of all, my hat’s off to whoever thought it would be a good idea for Charles to sing this – just brilliant! But listening to Sabbath’s version really drives home the mysterious strength of a great tune. Ozzy sounds hauntingly plaintive, and the 1972 track just works. Sabbath were obviously one of the great proto-metal bands, but on this track there is no guitar in sight. Instead we have a really skeletal piano part with a Mellotron string arrangement. I am always a little awed by the mystery of a song this simple – how, and more importantly, why, does it work? It’s one of those piano parts that only uses the white keys – you can almost see a musician who doesn’t play piano (in this case Tony Iommi, Sabbath’s guitar player) fooling around and coming up with this. The whole is truly greater than the sum of it’s parts.

And of course it has a great chorus: “I’m going through changes” – who can’t relate to that?