As Rolling Stone reported earlier today, Amnesty International is planning to release a staggering four-CD collection of over 76 Bob Dylan covers in January. The compilation, called Chimes of Feedom, features over 80 artists including Sting, Patti Smith and Elvis Costello. But in between all the rock legends and indie delights, there’s also some rather surprising MuuMuse Approved pop acts thrown in the mix.
For instance, there’s Natasha Bedingfield with “Ring Them Bells,” Miley Cyrus with “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome”, which nicely showcases the puff-puff-pass Disney pop princess pleasantly crooning with a country twang above a guitar strum, and even a RedOne rendition of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” which isn’t nearly as offensive as how it appears on screen.
But then, there’s Ke$ha‘s cover of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”…and it’s incredible.
Now, it’s all well and good to slag off Ke$ha as a beer-guzzlin’, bathroom BJ-givin’ glitter fame hooker prostitute wench (and believe me, I do it often), but that’s only a matter of playing into the persona she’s perpetuating as a pop star. Whether or not she’ll embrace it one day, Ke$ha is a genuinely talented singer-songwriter–she’s got an incredible ear for crafting killer hooks, as well as an impressive voice when its actually stripped of all Auto-Tune (see her pre-K-e-dollar sign-ha days demo, “Goodbye”)–and when she wants to wash off the glitter and turn on the grit, she truly can.
From Rolling Stone:
Ke$ha’s love for Bob Dylan is well known, and she has long touted his 1969 release Nashville Skyline as her favorite record of all time. But when it came time to record something special for Amnesty International, she set her sights on “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” from 1963’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan instead. She had no idea that the experience of recording it would turn into the cathartic and emotional experience that it did.
“I didn’t want this to sound like a pop version of a Bob Dylan song,” Ke$ha tells Rolling Stone. “That’s the last thing I wanted this to sound like.”She brought her friend, producer Bob Ezrin, on board, and the two of them discussed an interpretation of the lyrics that positioned the song as a suicide note from the female perspective. But then it became something different entirely; something personal.
Accordingly, her rendition of Dylan’s song is absolutely devastating. Stripped of all vocal editing and floating above only the most minimal instrumentation (a lone string or two and some distorted ambient noise), the pop star cries as she powers through the heartbreaking number, which she originally recorded as a one-take on GarageBand while alone at home: “Goodbye’s just too good a word babe, so I’ll just say fare thee well,” she cries before breaking down into a series of sniffles and whimpers.
The cover is Ke$ha’s most haunting, chill-inducing recording to date (by far) and a very clear representation of Dylan’s influence on her as an artist (yes, I’m being completely serious), and if you can connect to even one-fourth of the emotion she’s poured into this sobering cover, chances are you’ll probably wind up in tears too.
Chimes of Freedom is now streaming on Facebook and will be released on January 24.