Big Star – Blue Moon (1974)
Kendal Johansson – Blue Moon (2010)
The harrowing swansong of Big Star’s most influential incarnation, Third/Sister Lovers is one of the greatest rock albums ever recorded, an implosive musical statement that constantly teeter on a knife-edge between romanticism and despair, joy and collapse. Blue Moon is one of the rare chinks of pure light; a brief, tender yet beautiful plea free of the record’s pervasive sound of exhaustion, paranoia and imminent collapse as frontman Alex Chilton’s cracked choirboy voice speaks of love’s rapture with the graceful accompaniment of woodwind and guitar.
Kendal Johansson – a Swedish singer of which I and the internet seem to know very little – released a cover of the song back in 2010 on the independent Swedish label Sincerely Yours. Aside from the obvious aural differences including an atmospheric extended intro, Johansson does not stray too far from the originals’ romantic spirit. The arrangement is spare with synth and piano lines creating a haunted stage in which the keening vocals and open-hearted poetry of the lyrics can shine.
*For those curious to investigate the fractured. fascinating history of Big Star you should beg, borrow, steal or simply rent or buy Drew De Nicola & Olivia Mori’s brilliant 2012 documentary on the band entitled Nothing Can Hurt Us.