So I’m sitting in the den watching Winona Rider and Christian Slater finding innovative new ways to navigate through high school in Heathers. The credits start to roll and a band I thought had surely, well, disbanded, starts to sing an vaguely familiar song. After a long intro it turns into the greatest American cover ever of an American standard.
If you couldn’t join us on Wednesday, here’s the original Doris Day version. Check it out. The rest of us will wait.
This original version is a wonderful song of its type: innocent, upbeat, confident, everything middle America assumed in 1956 the indefinite future held for them. When you hear people say “I want my America back,” this is the America they mean. Hard to blame them.
But take a moment to consider what this version suggests about those Americans who didn’t, or don’t hear Doris Day singing to them. I’ll let you decide the meaning of whatever Sly & co. added to it, including the fact that his version is at least twice as long as the original.
It’s astonishing when an artist can take a song nearly everyone knows–and probably likes more or less as it is–and find a way to so thoroughly reinvent it. Any dope can sing Like a Rolling Stone like Dylan or Yesterday like Paul McCartney. A song that fits Doris Day AND Sly Stone (and Hermes House Band: see Worldly Wednesday) is a great song. But the person who caused it to fit is a great artist. And whoever chose it to wrap up Heathers is a genius.