December 8: “Jealous Guy”, Elliot Smith (John Lennon)

This will explain a lot: I don’t really know how to download. I’ve never figured out bittorrents either. In some early experimentation with it, though, I ended up with this live performance of Elliot Smith performing John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy”. The original was released in 1971 and then, like all of the Lennon canon, was in heavy rotation again after his sudden death on this day in 1980. I’ve had this cover version on my Shuffle for so long I’d forgot what the original sounded like: quite lovely, as it turns out, with some lush orchestration. The original video, which you can find on YouTube, is serene, with some soulful shots of Yoko.

This Elliot Smith version is more spare, but it highlights what a beautiful tune this is. This is a good test for many songs: is there any arc left to the song without orchestration? Can it withstand the most minimalist of treatment (by someone other than Elliot, who’s not around to provide it anymore)? Note — Smith nails the whistle break too.