Elliott Smith was a man with many demons. Before his unexplained stabbing death in 2003, he struggled with mental illness, alcoholism, and drug abuse. This is not lighthearted stuff, nor were his lyrics. Smith’s “Between the Bars” is regarded as one of his most haunting pieces of work off of his highly praised album Either/Or, which is likely why Agnes Obel chose this cover.
John Cale just turned 69 and several cover tributes have emerged to the legendary Velvet Undreground violist. Noah and the Whale covered Cale on his birthday, and Danish singer Agnes Obel did it a few months before that (but just released it for free in honor of the legend). Sadly, neither chose “The Man Who Couldn’t Afford to Orgy,” but the tunes they picked prove a lively, just-dissonant-enough tribute.