So there I am, driving around in the Florida heat in a rental car listening to some country music station (I don’t know which, K-ROQ or Q-UIM or somesuch), when on comes a familiar song. Well, familiar in one sense; it was a version of a Bonnie “Prince” Billy cover1. I’d never hear the original version of “Just To See You Smile” off somewhat obscure EP “More Revery”, but I’d loved the cover and chucked it on mix CD’s left, right and center, back in those heady pre-blogging days.
Bonnie Billy’s version is all broken, tentative, full of heartache, his voice cracking under the memory of telling the sad tale:
The original, by wholly-unknown-in-the-UK-star Tim McGraw2, is on the surface a more chirpy affair, all banjos and pedal/lap steels bouncing away with that marvellous Nashville sheen, but that old familiar tale still gets rammed home with a tear in ol’ Tim’s eye.
You can’t beat lyrics, or a tune like this, can you? Either way the song is performed, the sheer quality just shines through. I love both versions, though the cover is always going to have a special place in my heart that the original won’t ever displace.
1 Ok, fact fans, really it’s by Bonnie Billy. No idea why the “More Revery” covers EP misses out the “Prince” bit. Any ideas?
2 Fact Fans No. 2; “Just To See You Smile” was written by Mark Nesler and Tony Martin. So there.