100 best covers: #60 Gnarls Barkley “Gone daddy gone”

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I’m sure that all of you recall a little ditty called “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley. I distinctly remember seeing the video for it for the first time late one Friday night in 2006 on The Wedge and being drawn in and mesmerized by the Rorschach style ink blots that formed and re-formed images of the performers and such. And man, was that song catchy. I immediately went on the hunt for the album on which it appeared, “St. Elsewhere”, and learned that Gnarls Barkley was the duo of R&B wonder vocalist CeeLo Green and Midas touch uberproducer Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse). Of course, “Crazy” went ubiquitous and intergalactic as a hit but the rest of the album was quite excellent too – a compelling collection of genre-bending and genre-defying tracks – and produced two more singles, the last being the double A-side release of “Who cares?” and this very song, a cover of Violent Femmes’ “Gone daddy gone”*

Now, to close these posts, I typically give my opinion (and solicit your own) on whether I prefer the original or the cover but I am going to get this out of the way right now. Though the cover is quite excellent, I am going with the original here. It appears as track nine on the iconic self-titled debut album by the Milwaukee based trio. It is just over three minutes of punk and folk mashup and with a jazz-type song structure, including not one but two xylophone solos performed by bassist Brian Ritchie. In fact, I love how each performer takes their turn in the solo spotlight in such a short barn-burner and no one misses a beat.

It is amazing though and a testament to the range of music influences that surged through “St. Elsewhere” that CeeLo and Brian chose to cover a lesser known Violent Femmes tune from over thirty years prior and did so, faithfully. The cover is thirty seconds shorter and using digital sounds rather than organic instruments, managed to even speed it up some. It introduced a whole new audience to a great track and like many successful covers, the new audience fell for it, not necessarily even aware of its origins. And man, does that CeeLo have a voice!



The original:

*Interestingly, Violent Femmes’ original is also a cover of sorts, including a complete lyrical verse of Willie Dixon‘s “I just want to make love to you”. Hence, the shared writing credit.

For the rest of the 100 best covers list, click here.

9 replies on “100 best covers: #60 Gnarls Barkley “Gone daddy gone””

I’d never really been aware of much of the Violent Femmes stuff, so the Gnarls Barkley version was the first I’d heard and for that reason it’s probably my pick of the two.

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Completely understand. The Gnarls Barkley cover is pretty amazing but for the Femmes’ version is it. I know that debut intimately.

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Maybe one I need to spend some time with… I think it’s fair to say that I’m only really very familiar with the tune from the Crow.

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Haha. I forgot they had a song on that soundtrack! I have to say that I’m not a fan of all of their stuff and really, haven’t explored all of it myself. The self-titled debut is definitely worth checking out. Outside of that, 1991’s “Why do birds sing?” Was pretty good.

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I actually bought the debut on vinyl a few years ago cause I spotted it cheap… didn’t really get into it before selling it to fund a couple of purchases. Sometimes if I don’t pull something from the shelf in a while I wonder whether or not I actually want it. It’s maybe something for the CD collection.

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I’m definitely on the hunt for it for my vinyl collection but I get why you’d want to limit your vinyl to things to which you actually listen. They take up a lot of space, don’t they?

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Haha! Yes they do! Though it’s the cost that’s really impacting on my vinyl choices these days! The average price of an LP has doubled in most cases!

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I know! When I started collecting again, I was averaging between $18-$25 Canadian for purchases but now, I am seeing prices averaging close $50 easily. I blame the big boys for driving up prices.

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The bigger labels are the worst for it. A lot of indies are still reasonably priced here. Like we said before, even when the indies are charging a bit more, they at least make an effort with the whole package.


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