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Karen O and Willie Nelson cover “Under Pressure”

I can’t prove it, but I am pretty sure cover songs spread COVID. The more cover songs that are released, the more numbers seem to spike. I can’t really prove it. It’s one of those gut things so listen to this with caution while wearing a mask, I guess.

I love Karen O and I love Willie Nelson. I can’t tell you how many times I listened to Willie’s “Stardust” album while camping this year. It’s as essential as s’mores at any campsite. I’d assume that seeing this collaboration come across my inbox would have given me a great big, from-ear-to-ear smile. Not so much.

Anyway, I guess since artists can’t really hit the studio with bandmates right now, I suppose we will have to continue to suffer to a stream of cover songs. I can’t even decide if I like this cover. I am just so number to them that at this point my apathy overrides my fandom.

Discussing her collaboration with Mr. Nelson, Karen O says, “A friend on the board of NIVA asked if I knew of any country artists who could sign a letter to Congress asking them to help save independent venues from going extinct due to Covid. I recalled my buddy Johnny Knoxville being friends with Willie so I asked to see if he could check in with Willie about it, and then out of sheer audacity I added ‘and if he ever wants to do a duet I’m ready and willing!’ Johnny came back with the news that the signature was in the works and Willie’s daughter Amy very supportively said ‘have her send him [the] song and he’ll sing on it!'”

Ms. O continues, “At this point, my mind was melting but I had to focus and pull a song out of the ether that was worthy of a living legend and spoke to the people in troubled times, not an easy assignment. Then like a bolt out of the blue “Under Pressure” came to mind, I’ve heard this song countless times without processing the gravity of what Bowie and Freddie were singing about, maybe because their performances are so exhilarating you get swept away in the high of that duet. Our cover was meant to be more intimate but just as saturated with the power of love. I can’t listen to this song without tearing up every time Willie comes in, one of the purest voices which of course reflects a pure heart, and I get to sing alongside it. I never knew if it was actually going to happen but you must dare to dream. I hope the song brings as much light to the listener as it has to me in dark times.”

Anytime outside of a pandemic I would probably be in love with this. Maybe I am just a grouch today. Maybe I liked this version better:


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