Playlist: Time to get your Goth on

Happy World Goth Day everyone!

Er… To be honest, it’s not a holiday I observe but it did give me occasion to start in on an idea that I’ve kicked around in the past. And that is making and sharing genre-themed playlists on these pages. So, yeah, starting things off with Goth.

Goth is easily the music genre, lifestyle, and subculture that is most misunderstood by mass media and the public in general. I remember the going joke amongst a few of my coworkers, some years ago, which centred around the term ‘practicing Goth’ (as in, ‘Look at all that black, it looks like Jennifer is practicing Goth today’). It’s a term we culled from an article, one of many that had wrongfully attributed the perpetrators of the Columbine massacre as members of the ‘Goth community’.

I’m not sure I even fully understand the idea of being and ‘practicing’ Goth and all of the different offshoots that now exist but I do enjoy some facets of the fashion (the adoption of Victorian dress, for instance). I am also quite a big fan of a lot of the music that inspired the original scene, though I completely missed out on it, being too young at the time.

Some people sneer at the term Goth as a genre of music, calling it gimmicky, and the truth of the matter is that many of the original artists attached to the genre disliked the tag and tried to loosen its hold. I can remember going to a Sisters of Mercy show in Toronto in 1998, seeing all the youngsters in the audience wearing black, leather, S&M gear, etc., and wondering what they thought of lead singer Andrew Eldritch coming out on stage with his hair bleached blonde and cut short, and wearing a loud red Hawaiian shirt.

The idea in creating this playlist was not to define what is and what is not goth but to celebrate those artists that inspired generations to wear black. It is somewhat chronological, starting with those post-punk artists that toiled in darkness (Joy Division, Bauhaus), continuing with those that took up the mantle (The Cure, The Sisters of Mercy), squeezing in some acts that are not technically goth but definitely don’t sound out of place (Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen), and finally, gently transitioning to those that felt honoured to play in the originators’ shadows (She Wants Revenge, The Horrors), many years later.

For those who don’t use Spotify or if the embedded playlist below doesn’t work for you, here is the entire playlist:

1. Joy Division “She’s lost control”
2. Bauhaus “Bela Lugosi’s dead”
3. Tones On Tail “Christian says”
4. Love and Rockets “Haunted when the minutes drag”
5. The Cure “The hanging garden”
6. Killing Joke “Love like blood”
7. Siouxsie & The Banshees “Cities in dust”
8. Sisters of Mercy “Alice”
9. The Mission “Tower of strength”
10. The Cult “She sells sanctuary”
11. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds “Red right hand”
12. Concrete Blonde “Bloodletting (The vampire song)”
13. Leonard Cohen “Waiting for the miracle”
14. Dead Can Dance “Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove”
15. Cranes “Shining road”
16. Interpol “Obstacle 1”
17. She Wants Revenge “Tear you apart”
18. The Horrors “Do you remember”
19. Esben and the Witch “Marching song”
20. I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness “According to plan”

Enjoy.

For those of you who are on Spotify, feel free to look me up. My user name is “jprobichaud911”.

100 best covers: #85 Siouxsie and the Banshees “The passenger”

<< #86    |    #84 >>

In 1983, noted post-punk, gothic rock band, Siouxsie and the Banshees released a cover of The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” that featured The Cure frontman, Robert Smith on guitar. It was a massive success for the band, giving them their biggest hit single to date and garnering them plenty of kudos for the rendition. This one cover, in turn, inspired the group to record a whole album of covers, much like David Bowie did with “Pin ups” in the early 70s. They finally got around to launching this project four years later. The resulting album was “Through the looking glass”, its title a nod to the work of Lewis Carroll, and it included covers of a bunch of songs recorded before their inception, by bands (like Roxy Music, John Cale, and The Doors) who had inspired the Banshees and their music.

As you could’ve easily guessed by now, my favourite of the bunch was their version of Iggy Pop’s “The passenger”. The original recording of the song appeared on Pop’s second studio album, “Lust for life”, included contributions by David Bowie on backing vocals, and was co-written by lead guitarist Ricky Gardiner, who came up with that iconic and instantly recognizable, rollicking guitar riff. Iggy Pop’s original is dark and foreboding because of its austere sounding production and the deep and chilling vocals, whereas Siouxsie Sioux and her Banshees’ version is gothic because her and who she is.

Siouxsie’s version is also more symphonic, including a horn flourish that has a melody not heard in the original. It is a bit peppier, seemingly sped up some but that is probably just an illusion of sound. Siouxsie as always is dramatic and glamorous, her flamboyant vocals changing the tone and mood. And like many of the other songs on this covers album, the original artist, in this case Iggy, has praised and Siouxsie and the Banshees for their version, with Pop pointing out her vocal work as bringing something new to the song that he only wish he’d thought of.

For my part, “The passenger” is another case where I enjoy the original and cover with equal fervour, despite them being quite different. Indeed, I have no issue singing “la, la, la, la, la, la, la” loudly along with either one. Enjoy.

The cover:

The original:

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