Top positive review
40 people found this helpful
on April 3, 2003
Like a few other television shows, the producers of "Crossing Jordan" have used put a lot of effort to use songs to evoke moods in a situation rather than just use instrumentals to score the background. But rather than just using current music - or in a sense use the program as another medium to advertise current music ala "Smallville" - one strategy has been to reinvent some older songs that in some cases have become new standards.
Who better to turn to collaborate on such an endeavor than T-Bone Burnett. The team chose the songs, then rather than license original recording, used the approach of "Wouldn't it be cool if we got (insert artist here) to do this song". Evidently Burnett, as executive producer, lined up the artists and secured the clearances, but turned most of the actual production chores over to Craig Street (Cassandra Wilson, Norah Jones, Jubilant Sykes), an astonishing producer himself. Street has a remarkable skill for leading his artists to get to the essence of the lyrics and then use the musicians to go to the same essence rather than provide a score to the singer. It's great fun to see how well, or even better, these new versions stand up against the hit versions.
Case in point is Ms. Wilson's version of Jimi Hendrix' "The Wind Cries Mary". Though the aural presentation of the song is almost narcotic ear candy, Wilson showcases the lyrics to present a mood and situation that truly tie the song into program's storytelling.
Richard Thompson's thrilling take on Donovan's "Season of the Witch" may be his most incendiary recorded performance since "Shoot out the Lights".
Sam Phillips has been better than most performers at capturing the feel of the Beatles "Revolver" in many of her songs, so it's almost ironic that her take on "I Wanna Be Your Man" is totally un-Beatley. Here the song travels into the Flaming Lips zone and finds a great home there.
The only real letdown for me is Lucinda Williams' version of Tom Wait's "Hang Down Your Head". She's one of my favorite artists, but I just can't connect with her here.
Herbie Hancock put out an album several years ago that showed how some songs of the Boomer years can become new musical standards to be sued to show the creative abilities of a new artist with older material. This album promotes that thought.