Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cover Song Evolution: "Lilac Wine"

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Since yesterday was supposed to be the most depressing day of the year (I actually felt quite the opposite), and it was alarmingly brisk, I decided it was excusable to abandon all notions of running errands and head straight home to a pile of magazines, piping bowl of tomato soup and my couch.

In between bouts of laundry sorting and flipping through pages, I ended up on one of those pathetic, long-winded YouTube peruses - you know, the ones where the minutes turn into an hour and you don't even know how you ended up where you are. Well, this particular video crawl ended up centering around a favourite song of mine which has had a lengthy musical evolution since it's inception. "Lilac Wine," the lonely ballad first sung by Hope Foye in the short-lived theatre revue, Dance Me a Song (1950) was quickly taken on by Eartha Kitt (1953), made famous by the bellowing Nina Simone (1966) and cheesily modernized by Elkie Brooks (1978) before changing hands and voices to reflect younger new age phenomenons.

While listening to the tune last night and uncovering its musical journey, I fell even more in love with the thick emotion and tender melody; particularly, three artists' versions which I thought maintained its essential elements while adding new flavour. The poetic words and swaying summertime sound are what I consider to be the essence of a Nina Simone ballad, while the gone-too-soon Jeff Buckley's lovelorn croon was the perfect subsequent remastering, and surprisingly, none other than "Party in the USA" pop star Miley Cyrus' controlled vibrato and smooth rasp during her 'Backyard Sessions' were incredibly well-suited to the vintage heartache narrative. I never thought I would necessarily sit through a Miley video, but the muggy outdoor setting and her mature vocals did it justice.

Here you can hear where this favourite of mine began, and where it's ended up. What do you think? I think all are beautiful, but the Jeff Buckley version will forever have my heart.


  1. Love the version by Elkie Brooks, NOTHING cheesy about her vocals. Mileys is boring, Buckleys is depressing.

  2. Elkie Brooks version of "Lilac Wine" is fantastic.

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