It’s a rare thing for a singular track on any artist’s album to warrant an entire article’s worth of musings. It’s even rarer still when it’s a cover version of a song that deserves that much praise and dissection. However, that’s precisely what is about to happen. Singer Amy Winehouse had previously released a version of the classic track “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” years before her tragic passing earlier this year. However, the version that exists on the recently released album “Lioness: Hidden Treasures” is absolutely breathtaking.
Posthumously released albums can be a bit of a double-edged sword. If the previously unreleased or unfinished material is strong enough, or historically important enough, it can be well worth the time, money and effort to release an album’s worth of material after an artist has passed away. “Lioness” is an absolute force to be reckoned with from top to bottom. However, it’s the fleshed out version of a Goffin and King track sung by the The Shirelles that really pushes through into the foreground.
The version she first released was on the soundtrack for one of the “Bridget Jones” films starring Renee Zellweger. The 2011 version of this song takes that the older, stripped-down iteration and packs it full of horns, backup singers and intense beauty. Amy’s powerful vocals and soulful interpretation give the song a whole new subtext in the shadow of her death.
When an artist can release a cover song that somehow manages to surpass the original version, they’ve managed to create musical magic. One such example of this would be The Beatles covering the Isley Brothers’ classic tune “Twist and Shout.” The boys from Liverpool did such an incredible job of recreating that song that it transcended the original recording and has become the gold standard by which all other versions of that song will be judged.
This magic was repeated by Winehouse and the song’s producer Mark Ronson. What they were able to do is take a song about a young girl wondering if she sleeps with her boyfriend if she’ll still have his respect and turn it into a metaphor for Winhouse’s life and career, at least that’s one way to interpret it. She sings soulfully about the ramifications of love, and of giving yourself over to someone so completely, which one could argue she did to her fans and her music.
It’s hard to imagine another record from Winehouse carrying the same impact, so it would be great to think this will be the “goodbye” her fans and admirers needed. That is of course until some all-encompassing box set is released. However, if this is the final album of her work released, it’s hard to imagine a more fitting and beautiful bow to put on the present that was her music; a gift she gave to the world.