Venus Stopped the Train (live) :: July Talk
“I kept my distance because she fell in love with everyone.
Smoking grass and taking Christmas trees,
she fell in love with me.
I was polite to her,
a soft sadness had her much more than her loneliness.“
I fell for July Talk last Summer when I reviewed their EP, Guns and Ammunition. It was during my introduction to them that I stumbled on this beautiful cover on a favorite song of mine. Venus Stopped the Train holds a very personal place in my heart, and the song itself touches on a sadness, and a suitcase worth of lovely memories residing inside of me. The song tells a story that has left me full of wide-eyed wonder, and also filled those same eyes with tears. July Talk’s take on the song, with just the piano accompanying, like the original, but even more stripped down and sung as a duet, is such a perfect rendition, full of longing and loneliness and love.The use of the two voices, telling the sung story as an almost confession, singing both sides of the story, gives the song a different complexity, and hits me even deeper than the original. I am completely taken by it.
Venus Stopped the Train is originally recorded by the band Wilco. It was an unused demo from the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album that showcases the magic songwriting collaboration between Jay Bennett and frontman Jeff Tweedy, which was recorded with Bennett playing piano and Tweedy singing, in early 2002. The recorded original starts out somewhat ominously with the sound of canned thunder and pouring down rain as an introduction that then turns into a softly played piano sound. Tweedy’s vocal sounds fragile and vulnerable, starkly beautiful with a kind of loneliness that fits the song perfectly. Around the minute and half mark a set of backup vocals comes in sounding spiritual and choir-like, adding a sense of dramatic emotion in the same vein as that beginning sound of rain had. The vocals were provided by a harmonic mix of Tweedy’s, Bennett’s, and bassist John Stirrat’s voices.
Towards the end of the song, at about the three minute and a half mark, the predominately solo vocal switches to a brief switch in lead vocals, with Bennett taking over.
The song came around the ending of the musical relationship between Bennett and Tweedy, and this song seems like a goodbye, of sorts, to the two of them. It is full of melancholic beauty, and a sadness that is undeniable. Bennett died in his sleep in May of 2009 from an accidental overdose.
Jay Bennett and Jeff Tweedy
Do you have a favorite Wilco cover song? What do you think of this cover of Venus Stopped the Train?
Venus Stopped the Train :: Wilco