The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side (cover)

December 5, 2008 3:54 PM

ORthey requested that I do a cover of "The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side" (by The Magnetic Fields) and so here it is. He wanted me to use autoharp and drum machine, but because I am churlish I did not in fact use either. And to add insult to injury, I didn't even sing it myself! I got my wife to do it!

Magnetic Fields are one of those bands that I would normally avoid covering, because I sort of feel like they already exist in the same tonal area as I do; usually, I'd rather do a cover of someone who's from a different planet altogether. The further away from the original I can get, the better -- for one thing, it makes it harder for me to suffer-by-direct-comparison -- so the further away from the original that my starting place is the happier I am. (Other bands that I feel this way about include They Might be Giants and Quasi -- interestingly, two other bands that were suggested to me in the request thread.)

So: my first goal was to get away from the Fields' sound as quickly as possible, which is why the first thing I decided was to get my wife to sing it. (Of course, the gender switch is in itself Merritt-esque, so.)

Originally I was going to use my pling plong for this but then I realized that it would take me a million billion years to figure it out and punch all the holes and all that, so I just used the Alesis Micron instead.

I also realized that the wall clock was matching up because the song is 120bpm, so I went ahead and threw that in as well.


posted by Karlos the Jackal (8 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

If I could favorite this more than once, I would.

That's funny you mention the Magnetic Fields existing in the same tonal area as you, because that's exactly why I thought of this song for you. And then later I realized, wait, why would I ask a guy to cover someone he already sounds like?

But, you've totally changed the original and made it yours. Your wife has a great voice.

Thanks so much! This is wonderful. Love the clock.
posted by ORthey at 7:00 PM on December 5, 2008

Nice, nice. Have we done a flat out magnetic fields cover challenge yet? I think I like this more than the original. I'm actually glad you left out the climax part where it gets higher and higher.

Favorited for the song, and for the last line of your post.
posted by Corduroy at 7:21 PM on December 5, 2008

There, I added a favorite because ORthey wanted to favorite it more than once, now I need someone to borrow a favorite to me so that I can favorite it for myself.

Though it is impossible to flat out state something like that, I think this is my favorite song from the requests thing. This is, in my opinion, exactly what a cover should be.

Also, congratulations to your wife on that voice of hers.
posted by micayetoca at 4:48 AM on December 6, 2008

Bravo! Your version works beautifully.
posted by umbĂș at 5:00 PM on December 6, 2008

Wonderful cover - agreed on your wife's voice being lovely. I almost like this more than the original - while I love the rising and rising ending of the original, I probably like the way your wife did it more - it's more romantic and accepting, to the original's bitterness. Thanks for sharing!
posted by Ira_ at 5:37 PM on December 6, 2008

Hey everybody--I'm Karlos' wife, the aforementioned singer of this song. I just wanted to say thanks for all the nice feedback! I'm happy that people seemed to enjoy the cover (especially since I love, love, love the original).

We had fun putting this together. Karlos asked me to sing quietly, so I imagined myself as the world's girliest Joe Pernice and had at it. As for the ending, there's just no way to even approach what Dudley Klute does with it (glorious!), so I opted to go in the opposite direction. And voila!

Thanks again!
posted by Janey Complainy at 11:43 PM on December 6, 2008

the world's girliest Joe Pernice

Ah, so that's why you've been growing the beard.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 11:45 PM on December 6, 2008

I've never heard the original--the only MagFields album I have is Holiday, clearly a failure of judgment on my part--but the song and performance are delightful.
posted by doubtfulpalace at 12:04 AM on December 7, 2008

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