Covers Corner: “You Can’t Hurry Love” by Phil Collins

The spirit of the ’60s has been alive and kicking around here, especially since a few days ago when I heard that Ronnie Spector passed on. The news prompted me to listen to girl groups left and right. “Be My Baby” is without compare of course, but today I want to talk about another group, the Supremes, and a cover of one of their songs that’s personally meaningful. “You Can’t Hurry Love” is a classic from the era. It got a modern update in the early ’80s when Phil Collins revisited it.

His version was actually a staple of my childhood. Beyond the nostalgia factor, I just love the drums here. It makes the cover so danceable and hopeful; it supports the message of the song. Phil Collins’s voice is light, reflective as he talks about the possibilities of love. The interpretation is refreshing. It’s a cover, but I feel like its bright rhythm honors the spirit of The Supremes.

The Supremes’ original has the echoing quality common to songs of that era. That sound always makes me think of black and white TV. Their harmonies are beautiful. In their hands, the lyrics have a bit more of a longing feel: talking to their mama about when love might arrive. The eventual trust and faith expressed in The Supremes’ voices as they rise and fall brings to mind the gospel roots that many Black girl groups of the era had.

I can’t decide which version I prefer, and indeed, maybe that’s a question for the Covers Corner feature that I’ll set aside for now. What do you think?

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