04 October 2007

"Some days, they last longer than others."

As you may already know, the first single from the new Wu-Tang Clan album, 8 Diagrams, is their take on George Harrison's legendary Beatles song "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." The track, "The Heart Gently Weeps", does not in fact contain a sample of the song, but instead is, as the Wu notes, an "interpolation" of the classic White Album track.

The song finds Harrison's son Dhani and John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers sharing guitar duties while the serene voice of Erykah Badu blesses the hook. I can only imagine that Frusciante plays the Clapton role handling the song's lead, but whatever the case, the result is so much more than I could've hoped for.

Sacrilege and the Beatles catalog go way back (Elton's "Lucy In the Sky"?; no thanks) but the butchering is fresh with the recent release of the much maligned Across The Universe. Bono doing "I Am The Walrus" is one thing, but when paired with rap music, many consider the canon to be in danger. We've heard Lil Wayne mess around with "Help!" and of course, Danger Mouse's The Grey Album, both of which are actually quite enjoyable but somehow the concept remains unsettling. But where Dangermouse's take on "Weeps" straps the piano-line with a glitch-y drumbeat and tops it with Hov's amped "What More Can I Say" verses, the Wu took an entirely different approach.

"The Heart Gently Weeps" is a low-key, woozy affair -- a far cry from the confrontational "Watch Your Mouth", the first taste from 8 Diagrams -- and aside from the shrill, treble-y lead, the song is content to glide along with a subtle groove. Slow drums and a languid organ flow with measured restraint while the melodic guitar line claws from the background with a static distortion. Badu's chorus takes liberties with the song's lyrics and feels light and hazy, a perfect compliment to the ire brought in nearly every Wu verse, even on a less menacing song like this one.
The highlight, not surprisingly, is Ghost's drug/street narrative which is surely less frenetic than say, "Shaky Dog", but (almost-)equally captivating. The song's mid-verse sing-song detour that borrows from the original's bridge is also an endearing quirk. The remaining verses are passable, standard Wu fare, in this case, a completely forgivable offense as the group shows themselves as unafraid to take the backseat, content to coast on the beat's atmosphere and warm familiarity.

God knows Mr. Tom Breihan will probably post about this tomorrow, but I figured I'd get my thoughts down before reading anyone else's. Anyway, enjoy.

Wu-Tang Clan The Heart Gently Weeps (via Loud.com)
Jay-Z and DJ Danger Mouse What More Can I Say
Lil Wayne Help!


Dean Van Nguyen said...

thanks for the download link... its a little too close to Ghostface Killah's 'My Guitar' from the Pretty Toney sessions for me though, which was a really good track. All thats changed really is a few new verses and the fact that the rights to 'interpret' The Beatles track has been cleared.

Joseph Coscarelli said...

Very true. Ghost definitely had this track brewing for a long time, but I think what I'd assume is RZA's production gives this a little extra boost. I'll be interested to see how it sounds in the context of a record, not to mention without the loud.com whispering.

indiessance said...

a effeminate rock star with rhinestone clad glasses playing lennon's time&key signature switching "sgt pepper's"-era LSD-trippy chart-topping track "lucy in the sky" - the musical chemistry seemed to be there. but shatner's '68version must've been the ultimate beatles-desecration; offering more proof that some people have absolute-zero musical sensibility.