Van Morrison: “Madame George”

Posted: February 27, 2018 in THE CLASH of Cover Tunes
Tags: , , , ,
Tune du Jour: “Madame George” – Van Morrison
THE CLASH of Cover Tunes: Jeff Buckley vs. Energy Orchard vs. Phoebe Snow
Broc 3 - Cover Me Impressed

Everybody’s Dressin’ Funny … Cover Me Impressed!



Read it in the Sunday papers …

Joshua James, 23, was arrested for throwing a live, 3 1/2-foot alligator through the drive-thru window of a Florida Wendy’s. “He does stuff like this because he thinks it’s funny,” said his mother, Linda James, calling her son “stupid.”



The Original


Oh the Black Brothers are at it again. This time-consuming post is courtesy of Kerry Black. (Hope you like the song as much as he does.)

Van Morrison:


THE CLASH of Cover Tunes


Jeff Buckley vs. Energy Orchard vs. Phoebe Snow
Jeff Buckley:

Energy Orchard:

Phoebe Snow:

Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. It is your solemn responsibility to decide which cover song prevails. In other words … Which Side Are You On?!!? 


  1. Arnold Plotnick says:

    I remember, many years ago, I was reading a list of Rolling Stone’s top 100 albums, and there was Astral Weeks, in the top ten. (I don’t remember where, exactly. I remember Sgt. Pepper was number one, Never Mind the Bollocks was number 2, and The Velvet Underground and Nico was number 7.) I had never heard the album; the only songs of his I knew were Moondance (which I really liked) and Brown-Eyed Girl (which I was indifferent to). But the praise for this album was so lavish that I went out and bought it. Van Morrison soon joined the list of artists who I know is a super-talented genius, but try as I might, I can’t get his music to resonate with me. And I’ve tried, believe me. I downloaded a torrent containing 65 of his albums. I’ve listened to Veedon Fleece and Tupelo Honey, and I’ve listened to Astral Weeks a couple more times, and I like them, but only in a casual way. It just doesn’t resonate. I really wish it would, because I really really want to like it more. Maybe one day, something will wake up inside of me and I’ll appreciate it more, like I now do with jazz and with Florence Henderson, but for now, I remain unmoved.

    That being said, we move on to Jeff Buckley. His album Grace has also received lavish praise, and I bought it based on the amazing, stellar reviews a few years ago. I absolutely love about half of the album. The other half leaves me totally neutral. I don’t know, maybe something is wrong with me. However, his version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah has been described as the “definitive” one, and I would agree with that. It’s spectacular. I figured a lengthy, iconic song like Madame George would be the perfect vehicle for him. I listened, and perhaps he’d have gotten my vote if the fidelity of the recording was better. But surprisingly, his version turned out to be my least favorite of the three. Granted, his vocals did soar as expected, but I think he went a little over the top. Instead, the battle raged between Energy Orchard and Phoebe Snow. Snow’s version, which I expected to not like all that much, turned out to be pretty darn good, but it the end, I gave it to Energy Orchard. I liked their organ sound; it gave the song a nice reverence. The acoustic guitar was nice and crisp, and the vocals were spot on.

    Jeez, sorry for being so wordy here. This is what insomnia does to you. I’m typing this in the middle of the night here. I should have taken an Ambien.

  2. Cuspid says:

    What is it with these Black brothers? They never heard a song under 9:00 that they could stand? Can American Pie and In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida be very far behind?

    A song like this, with its story-like lyrics and simple musical accompaniment is the kind that really highlights Morrison’s voice and style. Very compelling.

    Jeff Buckley should have been able to knock this one out of the park. But IMO he fails miserably. The accordion or whatever that instrument may be is totally annoying. ANd Buckly doesn’y sound like he really wants to be singing this song.

    Never heard of Energy Orchard. But their’s is a fantastic version. It reminded me a little of U2’s Bad in the way that the song builds gradually. And at 6:00 it’s the perfect length of this song.

    Phoebe Snow did MUCH better than I imagined she would. Certainly enjoyable enough.

    Energy Orchard wins this one hands down.

  3. RDubbs says:

    Well as much as it galls me I am in total agreement with Arnie & Doug. Jeff Buckley’s version was impressively subpar. Phoebe Snow surprised but Enery Orchard going away.

  4. Kerry Black says:

    Part of my strategy in choosing Desert Island Discs was to select albums that I regarded as favorites, then select a specific individual track to represent the album. Often that selection process was quite difficult. There are at least a couple other cuts I could just as easily chosen, namely the title track, or even “Beside You”.

    When Dubbs announced he was resurrecting CMI, and would start by selecting songs we chose on our DID lists, I believe he wrote something to the affect that several of the selections would be hard to find covers for, but he’d use as many as possible. I felt sure that this would be among the songs left out, as I wasn’t aware of anyone having covered this. Granted, I never searched online for any covers of this, but it strikes me as an unlikely choice. I wrote that I don’t know or care what this song is about and it doesn’t matter to me because this is not about lyrics or topic. This is about Van getting in the groove and emoting and free-styling, using his voice as a musical instrument and carrying us along with him on his journey. Heck, I don’t think this song should be covered.

    Jeff Buckley is a name I’ve seen around for a long time, but I never bought anything by him, nor do I know much about his catalog or career. Early in the song, I thought this almost sounded like a parody, and I found the organ annoying, but I stuck with it. It almost seemed like an endurance contest, and I thought I’m probably the only person to listen to the piece in its entirety. I wonder if Buckley had a dispute with his record label and foisted this upon them to fulfill some contractual obligation or something.

    The second cut wasn’t bad, and gets the vote by default today because I didn’t like the other two covers.

  5. Pete Black says:

    I think Jeff Buckley is a polarizing musical artist. I bought a 5 song live EP of his when I heard how great he was to dip my toes for $6. He covered another Van Morrison song from Astral Weeks, The Way Young Lovers Do. The extreme vocal histrionics gets into at points seem to be either catnip or a deal breaker. Was he self consciously weird or just weird? I was surprised that I began liking this version after a slow start but he eventually went off the rails. I voted Phoebe Snow. I thought she was great but cut the song way short. Energy Orchard made me think of Bobby Darin on just enough of a happy pill the take the edge off but not slur, fronting a non threatening folk/psych band.

  6. Pete Black says:

    Astral Weeks may be my favorite record of all time. It always comes to mind quickly when I ask myself for a number one. There were at least five songs from this album along with Linden Arden Stole The Highlights from Veedon Fleece strongly considered for my choice of eight. Similar to Arnie’s story, I bought of bought a slim paperback collecting the opinions of critics, DJs etc. to compile the 100 greatest albums. It astounded me to see praise heaped upon a handful I had never heard of. Led me directly to Astral Weeks, which I did not remotely get or enjoy through the first several listenings. Also, Trout Mask Replica, which took me 227 listenings over about 18 years to get but now I love it, The Velvet Underground And Nico which I liked most of right away and eventually all and Love’s Forever Changes. I was skeptical that any band would be so cheesy to name their group Love. I think their first four albums are all fantastic but one entire side on Da Capo is an epic song which ventures into extended weirdness which won’t be for everybody. The other side is biscuits for everybody. With chorizo gravy.

    • Arnold Plotnick says:

      Oh jeez. Trout Mask Replica. That’s another one that is considered a masterpiece, a work of genius. Thankfully, I didn’t spend actual money on it; I downloaded it on the down low, so to speak. If it takes 18 years and 227 listenings to finally love it, count me out. I had listened to the entire thing about three times, including once at the gym with headphones on, where you feel like there’s no escape. Every time it was sheer torture. Torture. Then, a friend of mine posted, on his Facebook timeline, this very cool video that tries to explain why it is a masterpiece:

      The video was compelling enough for me to give it another try. And again, I listened and started contemplating stabbing myself in the eye with an icepick.

      Once, at the gym, I said, okay, I’m going to listen to all four sides of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music today, just to say that I did it. And I did. If I had to choose whether to listen to Trout Mask Replica again or MMM again, I’d choose MMM.

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