Wednesday, August 19, 2009

For a Song: World in Motion

Pops Staples: World in Motion


World in Motion was written and originally recorded by Jackson Browne, one of my favorite artists. So why am I featuring a cover version?

In the 1980s, singer/ songwriter music was at a low point. It was thought to be a commercial kiss of death to be considered in this category. Artists who had thrived ten years earlier had to either adapt, or face dramatically reduced sales numbers and the risk of being dropped by the label. So someone at Jackson Browne’s label had the less-than-brilliant idea that Browne should record a new-wave album. The resulting album had a heavy handed 80s production, which even included Browne singing through a vocoder. The album still stands as Jackson Browne’s worst, all these years later.

Pops Staples realized something that was hard to hear through the production: World in Motion is a fine song, matching the quality of anything Browne has ever written. So Staples set out to cover it. Somewhere , he got the idea to use Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt as background singers on the song. So, to me, it sounds Staples gave Browne a chance to redeem this song. Ironically, the production here sounds like Browne might have sounded if he had recorded it his way. So I think of this as the real World in Motion.


nan said...

I keep coming back to this post. I liked JB's original actually, but now that I've heard THIS, hard to go back. This is much more authentic, and you can really hear and feel this song in this performance. Thanks.