This is easily one of my favourite cover versions of all-time, and certainly more then just a novelty tune. Among other things it’s a great party tune in it’s own right, and proves that even the most seemingly cover-proof tune is coverable by the talented and the determined.
The Gourds hail from Austin Texas, calling themselves something of an alternative country band, even if stylistically they’re pretty traditional. Even so, it’s hard to argue with the fact that these guys aren’t treading a predictable path. In addition to this cover version, they’ve also covered Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” side by side with originals and traditional material. But, this is the song which gained them attention on college radio stations, most likely for the same reasons I shook my head in wonderment the first time I heard it.
There was a spate of ironic cover versions which seemed to crop up around the same time as this tune, some better than others. And this is certainly not meant to be taken too seriously, so much as it’s meant to get people dancing. Yet, one thing that stands out for me is how the incongruity of it seems to point out just how far removed white culture still remains to be from black culture in the minds of many, while at the same time pointing out how the differences between people aren’t really significant in any meaningful way. The result comes off as being extremely funny, as the subversion of expectations tends to be. Yet, I think there’s more there.
What I mean is that it is downright odd to hear a white, southern voice singing hip hop lyrics in the context of an Anglo-celtic musical form like bluegrass. Yet, when you really boil it down, the events which take place – partying with friends who may indeed be of the fairweather variety – are pretty universal, barring some of the rock star excess elements, maybe. Despite the cartoon ‘bitches and whores’ in this song, to me this tune is really about the value of friendship, even when surrounded by those who wouldn’t know what real friendship is.
Luckily along with what could be considered some serious subject matter, the song rocks like a bastard as well as being interesting on a sociological level. And it’s probably this that the band has intended things to be.
For more music and information, check out the Gourds MySpace page.
And also, investigate the official Gourds website too.