Whether you think it’s about suicide or “eternal love” (as songwriter Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser asserts), there’s no denying that Blue Öyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” is unnervingly haunting. The latest cover of the song to hit YouTube, by the folk-Americana outfit Bobtown, plays beautifully with the song’s Gothic sensibilities. We asked Bobtown’s Katherine Etzel about the choice. She tells us:
When we first got together, coincidentally, many of our songs were about death. Not a planned theme, but apparently, something we needed to get out of our systems… After noticing and discussing it one day at rehearsal a year or so ago, one of us jokingly launched into a verse of “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” and we realized it actually lent itself nicely to the sort of vocal-heavy arrangements we lean towards. So we built our version of the song around that spontaneous moment.
The band’s folk approach swings with acoustic guitar and bass, banjo, and an unavoidable maraca, alongside the layered vocals. The band claims the maraca was too close to the microphone, but the loudness of such an otherwise subtle piece of percussion lends itself nicely to the recording’s ethereal feel. A nice change from the ubiquitous cowbell.
Bobtown – Don’t Fear the Reaper (Blue Öyster Cult cover)