Bacharach and David’s oft-covered “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself” was first a hit outside of North America for Dusty Springfield and then in North America for Dionne Warwick. For younger people, the most famous version is probably that of The White Stripes, whose version did pretty well in the charts too.
The most famous covers of the song stick to a pretty similar tempo and feel – even the White Stripes cover, despite upping the volume considerably. But, on his new version from forthcoming EP Love Letters, Bryan Ferry slows down the pace of the song considerably and, despite the presence of a string section, he dials back on the emotion considerably. It’s pretty subdued performance for a song that routinely lends itself to histrionics.
One of the all time great cover artists, Ferry brought artistic respectability to the idea of a “cover album” with 1973 solo debut These Foolish Things , and much of his solo output as continued to focus on covers until this day. “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself” is yet another example of Ferry’s knack for subtly transforming a song, finding something new in it while also preserving much of the fundamental nature. It’s hardly transformational, but it’s a distinct and restrained cover of a famous song which manages to avoid the cliches of other covers.
Don’t miss our five-part series on another oft-covered Bacharach-David song: “Always Something There to Remind Me.”