On Apr 11, 2009, at 11:01 AM, Shit from Shinola wrote:

I’ve been lis­ten­ing to Brit­ney Spear’s “Baby One More Time” repeat­edly in an attempt to learn how to play it on gui­tar. I used to think it was just an empty mean­ing­less pop song, but this morn­ing while eat­ing pan­cakes with my part­ner I real­ized that there is more to this song than meets the eye. I think the song could be inter­preted in a vari­ety of ways and I’m inter­ested in hear­ing your take on it. Thank you.

Sin­cerely,
Shit from Shinola

Shit from Shinola,

I’m glad you asked, SFS. Back in 1999, Travis, a four-piece from Glas­gow, Scot­land, peformed a live cover of the exact same song on the BBC—I can’t recall the name of the pro­gram, unfor­tu­nately. In any event, it’s become a sta­ple of their per­for­mances in addi­tion to a whole slew of other cov­ers. The great thing about it? It’s pretty damn incredible.

One of the things about pop­u­lar music is that it tends to be looked over. Labels, man­agers and mar­ket­ing teams get a hold of a performer—not nec­es­sar­ily an artist—and put together a pack­age that’s mon­e­tar­ily viable. In the process of doing this, they hire song­writ­ers to pen music and lyrics. Through­out all of this, when all is said and done, the orig­i­nal vision can some­times be lost. I feel that way about “Baby One More Time”.

I agree with you, SFS. It is, indeed, a com­plex song filled with emo­tion and it’s rather remark­able how big of a dif­fer­ence pro­duc­tion can make. Here we have an unas­sum­ing pop song that, when stripped down to acoustic gui­tars and vocals, becomes some­thing much more.

The April 2000 issue of Inter­view prob­a­bly says it best:

RAY ROGERS: Speak­ing of songs, why do you cover Brit­ney Spears’s “… Baby One More Time”?

FRAN HEALY: We did it for a laugh the first time. And as we played it the irony slipped from my smile. It’s a very well-crafted song. I found that it had that magic thing.

DOUGIE PAYNE: It’s great when we do it live. At the begin­ning peo­ple are laugh­ing and then by the end they’re like, “Wow, that’s a great song. I never really lis­tened to it.”

FRAN HEALY: It’s like, Well, of course you didn’t. Because of the way it’s been dressed up. Our ver­sion is more naked.

And for the non-believers, you can find said cover below. There’s another ver­sion out there that includes an intro­duc­tion by Fran explain­ing the ori­gins of the cover, but this one has that bit cut off. Still, the song is pretty awe­some either way.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (ver­sion 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Down­load the lat­est ver­sion here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Just my $0.02
Julius Pleasar

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