David Bowie would have turned 74 on January 8, and in honor of the late singer’s birthday his estate has shared previously unreleased covers of John Lennon’s “Mother” and Bob Dylan’s “Tryin’ to Get to Heaven.” The songs have been released as a limited edition 7″ single via Rhino Records.
“Mother” had first been released in 1970, with Bowie recording his cover in 1998 alongside producer Tony Visconti for a Lennon tribute collection that never wound up being released. Bowie starts off the single on a strong note, his vocals wavering through the track in a heartfelt tone. The song starts off slow, Bowie joined only by soft instrumentals, a baseline and louder keys eventually making their way into the track. Bowie’s vocals take on a more muted tone as the rest of the instrumentals make their entrance.
Bowie’s take on the track lends a more jazzy feel from the original, which is more simplistic. Lennon belts the lyrics while Bowie takes on a more muted tone, singing about the trials of having a distant mother.
“Tryin’ to Get to Heaven” came out in 1997 and appeared on Bob Dylan’s album Time Out of Mind. Bowie recorded his cover of the song in 1998. Bowie’s iconic vocals slide into the track after a longer intro, the electric guitar singing beneath him.
Dylan’s original featured his signature sound, fit with folksy tunes and whining strings. The track flows more on the instrumentals, while Bowie brought in electric tones as he made the track his own. The cover introduces a more energetic feel, however keeps to Dylan’s swaying tone.
A live stream in celebration of Bowie’s 74th birthday also occurred on January 8, and featured appearances from Trent Reznor, Billy Corgan, Perry Ferrell and many more. Additionally, it had been announced earlier this week that Corey Taylor of Slipknot, Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters and Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction formed the new super group Ground Control to perform for Bowie’s birthday. In November, a 1991 performance of Bowie singing a cover of T-Rex’s “Cosmic Dancer” alongside Morrissey had been released as a single.