Cover Friday: ‘Cause I’m not haunted by memories enough already

Fom Lisa Hannigan's MySpace, which will make you wish all your friends did B & W photos

Fom Lisa Hannigan's MySpace, which will make you wish all your friends did B & W photos

I’m going to flout conventional psychology and blame my having been on vacation to see my family for my unusually reflective backward gaze this week. But I can’t seem to harden my soft spot for all the songs that affected me the most when I was in college. 2000 was an especially prominent year on the musical education front. A kid named Sean developed a file-sharing program called Napster, and it constituted nearly all the time I spent on my computer that wasn’t being eaten up by emails or paper-writing. Obviously, there is a lot to say about free web-based file-sharing, and since starting this project, I have some conflicting ideas about it. But I will save that elephant for viewing another day, and just tell you that my friends and I plundered the depths of the free mp3 sea and crafted some of the most definitive mixed tapes of our young lives that year.

For me, one such song was a wistful and sparse ditty about never being quite rid of the old presences in our lives. It was the first track from Kristen Hersh’s first solo EP, and Michael Stipe contributed backup vocals. If there was ever a song to hear as you allow yourself to drown in old memories, “Your Ghost” is it. These days, Lisa Hannigan’s songs serve the same function. She can sound kind of muddled and smoky like her voice has been percolating in a hash cloud inside a European coffeehouse, but it can veer in the other direction and sound as sweet and thoughtful as Hannigan herself (I’ll never forget how she finished a song during her set at the recent Wonder Ballroom concert, and exclaimed, “More tea!” before diving for her Thermos since she hadn’t been able to drink it in a while) during her live work. I can’t think of a better artist to cover one of Hersh’s best songs. When I downloaded this song, the performer is attributing as Damien Rice with Lisa Hannigan. Truthfully, you hardly hear Rice and this is pretty much Hannigan’s show.

Your Ghost

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