11.29.2015 — “Song To The Siren” as covered by Lights That Change

Lights That Change

If you only listen to one cover song today, make it “Song To The Siren”, as covered by Lights That Change (2015, from a standalone single). The song was originally done by Tim Buckley on his 1970 album Starsailor. Obviously, though, today’s cover is based on the cover done by Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins) on the first This Mortal Coil album (It’ll End In Tears, 1984).

Lights That Change is a dream pop/ether wave/shoegaze band from a small town called Mold in county Flintshire, in the northeast part of Wales. The band is really the project of Marc Joy, who was a longtime producer before launching the Lights That Change project “many years ago”. He makes no secret of the fact that he’s heavily influenced by Cocteau Twins and the rest of the 80s and 90s 4AD roster. I’ve written about the project once before, when Joy was aligned with a different singer. Lisa Von H was the vocalist for a couple of releases, and now he’s got Mandy Clare on board. I don’t know what her pedigree is, but she’s done a marvelous job with this.

Tim Buckley’s son Jeff turned Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” into something infinitely better, and made it his own. That version is the one that people do covers of now. In a similar fashion, Fraser and Guthrie turned Tim Buckley’s song into something infinitely better, and it’s the version that everybody knows. I’ve heard other covers of the Fraser/Guthrie cover, but I haven’t heard any good ones. Until now. I really, REALLY like this.

This is like mashing up the Cocteaus and the Julee Cruise song “Falling”.

“Song To The Siren”, as covered by Lights That Change

I love the delay on the vocals. I love the eerieness of it. I love the effects and the electronics. The old-skool drum programming. It really sounds like something in a dreamscape.

It’s important to note that the Fraser/Guthrie version changed Buckley’s lyrics just a bit in a couple of places, and that this cover strays from that a little bit.

In the Buckley original, there’s a line in the second verse that goes

Did I dream you dreamed about me
Were you hare when I was fox

In the Fraser/Guthrie version (and in this one), that line got changed to:

Did I dream you dreamed about me
Were you here when I was full sail

I like that change because it fits right in with the mythology of the sailor and the siren in the rocks.

In the Buckley original, the third verse starts out:

I’m as puzzled as an oyster
I’m as troubled as the tide

while the Fraser/Guthrie cover changed that to:

I’m as puzzled as a newborn child
I’m as riddled as the tide

I like that change simply because it makes sense for a newborn child to be puzzled. I don’t know what it means for an oyster to be puzzled. Is that a vernacular phrase somewhere in the world? I don’t care about changing “troubled” to “riddled”.

In the Lights That Change version, they totally omitted the third verse and the third chorus, but it doesn’t suffer at all.

For good measure, and because it’s brilliant, here’s the official video of the Fraser/Guthrie version:

I’ve always hated that spiky blonde hair look on Liz, and I was always really partial to the Heaven or Las Vegas-era wavy brown-haired Liz. That was smoldering. To be fair, though, even with the porcupine on her head, she always looked amazing, and she still looks amazing in her early 50s with her fully grey hair. And those eyes. Holy smokes, those eyes. Those eyes could end wars.

I could go on and on for hours about the brilliance of Elizabeth Fraser, but this is only tangentially about her.

You can grab the “Song To The Siren” cover via Bandcamp by naming your price here. While you’re there, you should just grab the entire Lights That Change catalog for the low price of £4.47 GBP, which comes to something like $6.75 USD.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: