Photo by Nina Raj
Last year, we loved Jess Cornelius' album Distance. But, I truly hate The Eagles. I know I'm not alone in this, but it's a truly deep hatred made worse by people that need to argue my hatred for them. But, I'm correct. They are terrible. When I first saw that Jess Cornelius had covered "I Can't Tell You Why," a song I don't think I realized was by The Eagles but still deeply hated, I almost didn't listen. But Cornelius' version is a complete reimagining of the original. The lyrics are the same, and there are some similar guitar parts, but instead of generic, watered down 70's folk pop cheese, it's a noisy, discordant mellow indie rocker. There's much more reverb here than any other music, which is a-ok with me. A stark contrast to the music is Cornelius' vocals. She's singing "I Can't Tell You Why" pretty straight, so it creates a great difference with the music she's singing over.
Jess Cornelius talks about the song:
“I can’t remember when this song first came under my radar — I imagine that, like for many people, it was sort of playing in the background on one of those classic hits stations. One day a friend put the song on (because we were talking about late 70s yacht rock, I guess) and it got a bit stuck in my head so I learnt the chords. It wasn’t ever going to be something that I covered faithfully, and I didn’t see the point anyway.
So I was messing around with the arrangement, making it less bouncy and darker. I have always loved the melody, and the tension of the chorus, but to me it was a sad song and I wanted to bring out the frustration of the lyrics. Also, years ago I heard Lou Reed cover Peter Gabriel’s ‘Solsbury Hill,’ which is one of my favorite covers of all time, and that became a bit of a template for this version. It’s almost an homage to that cover, really.
I wanted to learn the guitar solo, because I never do, so it was fun to practice all that cheesy string bending. Of course, my version is a little trashier. And I started with drum machine drums but added some live drums at the end. I kinda wanted it to sound like it was disintegrating — luckily Jarvis Taveniere was mixing so he made the drums sound cohesive and not as chaotic.”
You can listen to Jess Cornelius covering "I Can't Tell You Why" below. For more on Jess Cornelius, check out the artist's website.