I’ve been on a Nirvana/Foo Fighters kick lately, so it seems only fitting that the latest entry in my Covers Corner series features them. It’s also a great crossover because “Keep the Car Running” is one of my favorite Arcade Fire songs, after the iconic “Wake Up.”
The Foo Fighters’ take on the song actually retains much of the spirit of the original. It even features the stringed instrument section. I love Dave Grohl’s voice here. He has excellent range: it can go from grunge to gentle, and in this cover, the gentleness is what’s at the fore. That softer tone is especially evident with the lines, “If some night I don’t come home/Please don’t think I’ve left you alone.” There are also nice acoustic vibes and the beat is so uplifting. Even when the drums crash in, they’re restrained.
Meanwhile, Arcade Fire’s original opens more slowly. Like many of their songs, it’s atmospheric, yet solid. Interestingly, at certain points Win Butler’s voice does actually sound somewhat similar to Dave Grohl’s. (I enjoy parsing the differences between cover and source, but sometimes it’s the similarities that are fun to discover, too.) The story that I get from the Arcade Fire version is just that, a story. Somehow the Foo Fighters cover makes it feel like something that actually happened. Perhaps it’s how many layers of sound are going on: distance versus immediacy.
It’s hard to say which version I like better. What about you?