Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Heartbreak Hotel X

OK, so I sort of made up the name, but there needs to be some way to refer to the new reworking of Heartbreak Hotel that debuted as a sketch from the 2006 rehearsals on the Circus Live DVD*.

It seems to be improvised - I say that because it's labeled "Heartbreak Hotel of sorts!!" on the DVD, and somebody says, "That was a moment!" when they're done. Cale's vocal isn't really in the same key as the rest of the track, to my ears, though as atonal as it is, it's hard to tell. The worst part of the original version is the cringe-inducing "diddy wah diddy" (verbatim) scat in between verses instead of "feeling so lonely" and the rest of the chorus. Despite these flaws, it's fairly compelling. He ends the song with a slurred chant of "whadda whadda whaddid I do," which sounds better than it looks.

I thought it was a one-off when I first saw it, but Cale has been performing it live ever since. He's got a better handle on it now - it's less atonal and less jokey. (Occasional caveman backing vocals from his guitarist aside.) It's not as emotionally satisfying as the piano-driven versions from the early 80s through the 90s, but in general I like it at least as much as his original hard rawk recomposition of the song. (The main post about Heartbreak Hotel is here, if you missed it.)

"I'm scared and I wanna go home," said the guitarist after they played that first version. I agree with the first part at least, but I'm happy that he's still doing violence to old songs.

* The forty minutes of rehearsal footage alone being a perfectly good reason to pick up the set. The DVD is region-free and the set is cheap now!