I Went Out Walking
Every day I walk by the mansion from The Royal Tenenbaums, which is situated on my quiet Harlem street. It has been 15 years since it was under director Wes Anderson’s watchful eye, so if a passerby takes a serious glance at the place it can seem as if it is someone else’s rendition of the house from the film — a tribute to the artful pastiche of Anderson’s films. Some of the covers on I Saved Latin! A Tribute to Wes Anderson, a compilation by American Laundromat Records, come off like the house. At first blush they sound like the original songs by The Creation, Mark Mothersbaugh or the Rolling Stones, but with some of the aging that strips away some color and adds some wear.
Along those lines, The Generationals pull off a brilliant cover of The Creation’s “Making Time,” a song whose original was used to masterful effect during the extracurriculars scene in Rushmore. The chorus, with its chants about the “same ol’ song” and that chunky, iconic riff dominate. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin offers up a rendition of Mothersbaugh’s “Margaret Yang’s Theme,” also from Rushmore, that captures the deliberate, intricate and baroque qualities that encompass Anderson’s and Mothersbaugh’s collaborations.
Matt Pond’s cover of Nico’s “These Days,” the original of which was used in that classic scene in Tenenbaums when Richie sees Margot at the bus station, is a beautiful version in and of itself. This cannot be an easy song to cover: Nico’s low, talky singing voice is particularly unique. Pond pulls it off, though, mining the quiet longing and intimacy of the original.
Switching gears, Mike Watt & The Secondmen belch out a dark, mechanistic version of the Stones’ “Street Fighting Man.” It’s sludgy with dark, gravelly vocals put through some special effects filters. It’s like Tom Waits transferred his consciousness to an android and opened up a brothel in a basement below a codeine factory. It’s not as bright as the original, which was used in The Fantastic Mr. Fox, but it’s an interesting take on the rock/R&B classic.
Other notable covers on the album include those of David Bowie, The Kinks and Elliot Smith. Tribute compilations can be a dicey affair. However, as an homage to a film auteur whose song selections are as important as the color of the books his characters read, this 23-song collection succeeds brilliantly.