Cover Friday Tuesday: Make sure your hairshirt is green

Mmm. Who doesn't like St. Paddy's day treats?

Mmm. Who doesn't like St. Paddy's day treats?


The luck of the Irish has certainly figured prominently in the music scene this year. Lisa Hannigan is touring and getting some much-deserved props. Bands like Guggenheim Grotto, Bell X1, and U2 (though they are Irishmen-turned-citizens-of-the-world) have recently released albums. Even elder statesman Van Morrison has been performing songs from Astral Weeks all over the place. You know what this means. First, snakes should hide. Spur of the moment Whacking Days will be announced internationally. The Lucky Charms leprechaun will finally get to keep the marshmallows after being granted a pardon for grinding the children who stole his beloved possessions into cereal, citing years of systematic sanctioned torture. Scotsmen and Welshmen will fight in the streets, but find a resolution to their quarrels by drinking more Guinness.

Despite the inevitable confusion once these bits of cultural ephemera become fact, at least one thing will remain constant. Glen Hansard performed on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” a few days ago. Hansard’s on-stage presence, with his booming voice and expressive eyes as they shift from the strings of his mandolin to the audience, has a way of making you feel like you’re the only one in the room as he sings. It’s a feeling that draws you in just like it does in the first scene of Once. He covered an REM song, “Hairshirt” from Green. He originally played it as part of the REM tribute performance at Carnegie Hall on March 11. As much respect as I have for Michael, Mike, Peter, and Bill, Hansard’s version was an improvement. His register sits a bit lower than the nasal region (though that tone totally works for Stipe, in a lot of REM songs) and his pitch control is better. The lack of accompaniment other than the mandolin helps to enunciate the lyrics and their exploration of the tension between love and guilt. The cover does little to embellish or reinvent the original song, but watching it made me hold my breath. For Ireland to be able to claim Glen Hansard as a working and prolific musician is truly lucky.

Hairshirt

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