Jesse Jarnow

“senor (tales of yankee power)” – bonnie ‘prince’ billy

“Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)” – Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy (download here)
from Lay & Love EP (2007)
released by Drag City (buy)

(file expires February 13th)

Maybe Gardner is right. Maybe B-sides aren’t as interesting when they’re not actually on the other side, and don’t have to tracked through shops and mail order catalogues. In some ways, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Duder’s exceedingly lovely cover of Bob Dylan’s “Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)” is the same as any of the songs on The Letting Go, the album for which it’s nominally an addendum. That is, they’re all just files on my computer.

At the same time, though, the songs become way more modular: both “Señor” and the album’s title track have made it onto some of my playlists, where the album’s other songs haven’t. There, the ever-ephemeral digitizations have become more personalized than fetishized, more than they ever could be merely as industrially produced physical objects, no matter how rare.

But de-fetishizing something isn’t always bad. No matter how obscure or obvious a recording, as a listener, there will always be the moment before you heard a song, the moment you actually heard it, and the moment after, and — in those moments — the experience of newness. That’s what counts, right?

“Señor” adds to Bonnie ‘Prince’ Mofo’s catalogue of boomer covers, including Dylan’s “Going to Acapulco” (also on the Lay & Love EP), the Dead’s “Brokedown Palace,” and — as Gardner randomly informed me tonight — the Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” And that’s really what makes them special: a sub-narrative available only to those who want to read it.