Everlast – “Folsom Prison Blues”

This may be the worst cover I’ve ever heard.

Let me back up a moment.

I appreciate Everlast and what he’s trying to do here.  I understand that he wants to pay tribute to Johnny Cash, that he probably loves and respects Cash more than the average person, that what he is doing here is nothing but an attempt to pay homage to Cash and the aesthetic of the Johnny Cash show.  I’m aware of that.

I’ll even go one further and say that I genuinely appreciate Everlast’s music.  I don’t know if you’ve listened to “What It’s Like” in the past, oh, ten years, but it’s a much better song than I remembered.  And really, that song could serve as a template for what he should have done with a cover of “Folsom Prison Blues;” the minimalist guitar work coupled with hooky hip-hop drums and his gravelly singing works fine on its own.

But that wasn’t enough for Everlast.  Not this time.  Looking past how awful the video is — bad green screening, Everlast’s collection of truly terrible 80s western shirts, that DJ who grins a bit too much for my tastes, and the fact Everlast is alarmingly larger than Cash when they do that weird fist-bump at the end of the video — this is just bad music.  I almost said “plain bad music,” but the fact of the matter is that this is not the same old bad music.  This is bad music as it can only be done in 2008.

First of all, “Insane in the Brain” should never — NEVER — back “Folsom Prison Blues.”  I don’t say that as a staunch traditionalist; I’m a pretty big fan of what Danger Mouse did to the Beatles on the Grey Album.  I mean, musically, those two songs simply do not flow together.  I don’t have the most musical ear, so I can’t say for certain, but I don’t think that that weird squalling noise is even in key.

Additionally, there’s way too much going on here.  I listened to this song with headphones and it sounded like I had three different applications open at the same time. As for why they chose to filter the original rhythm guitar through three or four flangers, I have no idea.

This is de rigeur these days, though.  Bands across genre lines are stuffing so much, well, so much crap into their songs that the actual performance doesn’t seem to matter much anymore.  It may be theoretically interesting to see how many tracks you can put in one song, but if the performance isn’t there, it’s going to remain a dressed-up, soulless husk.  Just because we have the technology doesn’t mean that we need to use it.

Like I said, I respect Everlast and what he’s trying to do here, and what really bugs me is the fact that he has the capacity to do a really great cover of “Folsom Prison Blues.”  But this is not it.

I will concede, though, that the little Moog solo is awesome.  Totally awesome, almost to the point of redeeming the song.  But then it picks back up with that weird out of key squall.  *Shudder*

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2 Responses to “Everlast – “Folsom Prison Blues””
  1. Gustavo says:

    I’m certain some brain cells died as I watched that.

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