Still Crazy After All These Years was Paul Simon’s 1975 solo album that featured a number of songs that reached the Top 40, including “My Little Town” (the first time he and Art Garfunkel recorded together since 1970), “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover,” “Gone At Last,” and the title track, the subject of today’s battle.
There have been a number of recordings of the song, and what I’d like to do is feature three of them. One I won’t feature is that of Karen Carpenter. I love Karen’s voice, and it’s well suited to the song, but I didn’t feel to include that version in the battle. I’m asking you to choose between three already, no reason to add a fourth. If you’re interested, you can listen to it here.
CONTESTANT #1 – ROSEMARY CLOONEY
Actress and singer Rosemary Clooney had a string of hits in the 1950’s, including “Hey There,” “Mambo Italiano,” “Come On-a My House,” and “Tenderly.” This is from her 1993 album Still on the Road and features a guitar solo by Steve Lukather.
CONTESTANT #2 – RAY CHARLES “My World” 1993
Given the gospel feeling of the song, if Ray Charles hadn’t done it, the world would have been a much sadder place. This is from his 1993 album My World.
CONTESTANT #3 – WILLIE NELSON
Willie Nelson is best known as a country singer, but that has never limited the songs he chooses to perform, and he puts his own stamp on each song he does. He did the song for the soundtrack of the 2000 movie Space Cowboys, starring Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, and James Garner. Here he does it live on a show that was carried by WNCN, channel 17, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.
So, we have three versions that are similar, but sung by three talented and different singers. Of the three versions, which do you like better, Rosemary Clooney’s, Ray Charles’, or Willie Nelson’s? Let me know in the comments below. I’ll announce the winner next Friday or Saturday, once everyone’s had a chance to vote.
And, when you finish here, you might want to drop in on the blogs of other participants in the Battle of the Bands:
Tossing It Out
Far Away Series
StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands
Your Daily Dose
Alex J. Cavanaugh
Creative Outlet of Stratplayer
Curious as a Cathy
12 thoughts on “BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “Still Crazy After All These Years””
Tough call but Ray Charles gets my vote! Every time I visit your blog I get side tracked to something enjoyable!
Well, thank you. I appreciate hearing that.
I thought Rosemary Clooney did a decent rendition, and I do like the guitar, but it actually felt a little out of place — this song needs a little bluesier, melancholy feel and Steve Luthaker’s solo was a bit too much for the song.
Musically, I think Willie Nelson’s version is the best — the guitar is nice and soulful and bluesy and while I would prefer less strings, it worked well. I do have a lot of respect for Willie Nelson, and StevieMacDaddie’s really broadened my appreciation for him, but this rendition doesn’t quite grab me as much. There are points where the vocals are essentially spoken instead of sung. That can be ok, but it distracted me more than anything here.
Vocally, I definitely prefer Ray Charles’s version, and the piano is very nice, but the overall musical production is not as good. The cheesy synth solo doesn’t work and the big horns I like even less than the strings for this song.
If Ray was singing live over the band that Willie sang with, it would absolutely be my favorite rendition. But between these three, I’m still going with Ray. Willie would be second, and Rosemary third.
Gotta go with Willie. Rosemary just didn’t quite sound right singing this and although I like Ray, he just couldn’t beat out Willie. It’s like Paul Simon wrote this song from him.
I ruled out liking Willie Nelson’s cover, but I listened to it and I stand by my original thought ~ it get tossed out. However, I thought from the start that I’d pick Rosemary Clooney because I like her early stuff so much, but as it turned out I like Ray Charles’ best. So, Ray gets my vote!
I amaze myself because I am going for Willy! It felt like a someone who travelled a long road and could feel this song. He made it the most touching for me. I enjoyed Ray Charles as well but the “feeling” for me wasn’t there. I love Clooney but she seemed to miss the mark here for me and she sounded tired
Tip: You could have made Stephen T. McCarthy crazy and pitted Karen Carpenter against Willie Nelson. I would have come back just to read the blazing comment he left you. Hahahaha.
This is an excellent song. I am feeling very undecided about this battle. I really liked the Ray Charles and Willie Nelson versions of this song. As soon as I heard Ray Charles, Rosemary Clooney was out of the running. But Willie makes it hard. His voice is not the “prettiest,” but he has a heartfelt way of singing a song that appeals to me. This song is a great choice because it is sentimental, and I tend to believe every word as he sings it.
I guess that decides it. Put me down for Willie, with Ray Charles running a close second.
I very nearly did add the lovely Ms. Carpenter to the battle, but I figured I already had three and I got yelled at the last time I did four (of course, that was a longer song). Hers is actually my favorite, because I love her voice.
Before playing any of these versions I figured I would probably wind up voting like this:
1 – Willie Nelson
2 – Ray Charles
3 – Rosemary Clooney
Having listened to all three versions, my actual vote goes like this:
1 – Rosemary Clooney
2 – Willie Nelson
3 – Ray Charles
I likes me some Willie Nelson real good, so it takes some doing to beat him in a “Battle”. Clooney was up to the task though. Nice vocals, cool arrangement, and a little heat from the guitar. Excellent cover of a good song.
‘Loyal American Underground’
Definitely Willie Nelson. The song sounds like it could have been written for him.
The Clooney version is pretty nice, but for me there was something lacking in her performance. Liked it, but didn’t love it.
Ray Charles’ version–I didn’t love it and I didn’t like it that much. I’m not a fan of Ray Charles and like him least when he goes into the gospel stylizing. A can appreciate Charles’ talent, but I’ve never understood his popularity. He always seemed a bit overrated to me, but then I guess that’s just aligned with my preferences in music.
So, bottom line, give my vote to the country soul stylizing of Willie Nelson.
Tossing It Out
In most of your Battle of the Band posts, I have fairly strong opinions of which version I like the best. But this one is HARD. Each version is different, but I like them all. I didn’t even know anyone besides Willie Nelson had covered this one. Okay, I know I have to pick. Hmm. I guess I’ll go with Ray Charles. Just because I have to pick one. 🙂
I’m going to go with Clooney. Good voice and nice pacing. Charles’ was a little too slow and I don’t like country, so she wins.
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