A fine example is Space Travel is Boring, one of my favorite tracks on Tiny Cities. The Modest Mouse song is relatively banal (one might even say boring): an ADD-infused piece of schizophrenia whose constant changes in tempo make it highly irritating rather than innovative. You can judge it for yourself here, paired with an equally irritating video that results in a semi-masochistic sensory experience.
Kozelek, on the other hand, transforms the song into a gem of rare and poignant beauty, brimming with longing and melancholy. The Sun Kil Moon recordings tend to be a little more highly produced than those of the old Red House Painters days, but that doesn’t diminish the essence of the music.
I was walking down a snowy Soho street in NYC the other day listening to this song on my iPod, and it made me think, obliquely, of brooklynguy’s post on terroir a couple of weeks back. He was talking about multiple interpretations of the same vineyard, and how fascinating it is to compare examples of the same terroir made by different hands. Of course, brooklynguy’s examples involved comparisons between some of Burgundy’s greatest winemakers, which makes the experience exponentially more enjoyable. My Space Travel is Boring example is like tasting a Volnay Clos des Chênes from Patriarche Père et Fils and then tasting one from Michel Lafarge. You’d never know the greatness of the vineyard by drinking only the former.