Good thing I have no cool points to lose as I first heard James Blake's Antony-like cover of Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You" on this week's episode of Parenthood.
I found it distracting, because it's a performance that draws attention to itself, such that it's hard to concentrate on the narrative meant to accompany it.
But by articulating the lyrics so carefully, I finally heard them for the first time. I always thought Mitchell was referring to a "case" as in a sickness, and I liked the idea of a love so strong it hurts, but she's actually referring to a beverage-like case of love: "Oh you're in my blood like holy wine / You taste so bitter and so sweet / Oh I could drink a case of you darling / Still I'd be on my feet..."
The song has its admirers, I know, like a co-worker who didn't normally go in for singer-songwriter fare. And I do like Mitchell, but after really listening for the first time—I prefer Blake's Feist cover—I now like it less. (Her vocal, however, continues to thrill; too bad she let smoking destroy that pristine upper range.)
Here's a sampling of YouTube comments: "Parenthood sent me here!...Parenthood. 'Nuff said...Heard this on Parenthood and it gives me chills! I love Joni, but this blasts her out of the water!...My favourite song of all time sung by my favourite emerging artist, no it can't get any better than this...SO MUCH BETTER THAN JONI MITCHELL...Parenthood sent me here as well...Incredible. Better than Joni..."
So, Blake's cover has its admirers. But they're wrong. I may have a problem with Mitchell's metaphor, but her rendition obliterates all comers (yes, even Prince).