Monday, November 28, 2022

“Oh Lonesome Me” … Always Go Back to the Original

My first hearing of “Oh Lonesome Me” was a slow, depressing version by Neil Young that I never really liked. Kind of a downer, really. 

Little did I know how very, very different it was from the Don Gibson original in 1956.

Many years later I finally discovered the original and hoo boy, this is a great song, lively and uptempo, which makes it far more interesting both musically and lyrically.

Don Gibson, “Oh Lonesome Me”

So for decades I fell victim to the weird situation where one artist re-interprets another artist’s song, changes it completely, and then because that’s the first version you hear (and hear a lot), your first impression of the song itself is just … wrong.

This can easily happen when you occupy a musical silo, unexposed to certain styles of music especially from a prior era. In this case, classic country music. You’ve probably fallen victim to this too.

Well, better late than never. Nothing against Neil Young here, he was an accomplished and original artist on his own, and he tried something new as creative folks do — but at least for me, it didn’t work. That’s okay. Artists should try to do their own versions of songs, that’s what creativity is all about.

And it’s on me (and you) as the listener to seek out original versions of songs if so motivated, to learn more about the original song and artist.

Speaking of artists re-interpreting the work of other artists, my favorite band for that is The Ventures, who are masters at doing their own versions of other artists’ work and staying mostly true to it but putting their own unique spin on it. That’s who they are and what they do. 

And this version is excellent, of course.

The Ventures, “Oh Lonesome Me”