One of my favorite songs is “Whole Wide World” by Wreckless Eric. It’s deceptively slow punk with a chugging start and soft vocals that crash into the chorus. The chorus itself has the signature sneer of punk, but it’s so heartfelt that the posturing sheen wears away quickly.
Billie Joe Armstrong took a turn at the song and pulled it off. A big reason for this is because of his accent. I believe I’ve linked to this article before, but the surf rock culture that gave rise to California punk also gave rise to its own distinctive vocal style. As Armstrong once said, he’s an American faking a British accent faking an American accent. That’s perfectly suited to a classic punk song like “Whole Wide World.” He doesn’t have quite the same grit, nor is his voice nearly as exaggerated, but it’s pretty near perfect to my ears. I feel like I don’t often feature covers that are so closely matched to each other like that. Recently, covers seem to be slow acoustic renditions of pop songs. Which isn’t a bad thing! I’m fascinated by those trends. But here, I like the strong echoes of the original that run through Armstrong’s rendition of “Whole Wide World.” As usual, I’ve included both below. Give a listen and let me know: are they really that closely matched? Which do you like better? (I honestly can’t say myself.)