I know what you’ve been doing for the last two days. You’ve been acting casual — going to work, doing laundry, eating meals, pretending everything is normal — and all the while, just under the surface, you’ve been desperately jonesing for another Cher cover. Don’t try to deny it. It’s been eating you alive inside. I can tell.
Don’t worry. I got you covered.
Today’s comes courtesy of the great Etta James, and unlike the “Believe” cover I shared on Tuesday, this take on “I Got You Babe” is almost as old as the original, having been released just 3 years after Sonny Bono wrote and recorded his 1965 version (with the help of his boo, Cher, of course).
Speaking of old — you’ll see why I’m so proud of this transition in just a sec — I found out about this killer cover from a column called New Music for Old People, written by Al Kooper, the venerated multi-instrumentalist and producer who played the iconic organ part in “Like A Rolling Stone” and that show-stealing, descending piano line in “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
I mention the latter because Kooper mentioned it himself when talking about James’ version of “I Got You Babe”…
Etta had the better band — The Muscle Shoals Swampers. In fact, I was heavily influenced by the groove on this when I played the piano part on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” I kinda lifted it from the chorus groove on this record. Wish the fidelity was better here… but maybe not.
Kooper’s fidelity concerns aside, this recording adds some serious backbone to a song that’s always struck me as a little too campy for regular listening. Best of all, the significant stylistic departure means you won’t spend the whole 2 minutes and 29 seconds thinking about the alarm clock from Groundhog Day. OK, maybe you’ll think of it now that I said something, but I promise — the horns, the phrasing differences and James’ spectacular vocals will have your mind in the right place in no time.
Listen below and click here to snag the rest of James’ Muscle Shoals-swamped album, Tell Mama.