Not exactly the boy next door
I love to experience an artist or author through the genre-bending idiosyncracies of another. Even the most uninspired collection of "covers" can lead me to an insight. These two interpretations of Poe's poetry and prose go far beyond "covers," and lead me to experience Poe's mad art very, very directly.
Lou Reed's CD, "The Raven," is a rock and roll carnival and play about Edgar Allen Poe, who is, according to Reed, "not exactly the boy next door." Spoken tracks (with music) include readings of "The Raven, "The Tell-Tale Heart," and "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Willem Dafoe, Amanda Plummer reading "Annabel Lee" and "The Bells, " and Elizabeth Ashley's "The Valley of Unrest." Steve Buscemi, Laurie Anderson, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Ornette Coleman, David Bowie, and (of course) Reed himself contribute to the words, music, and atmosphere - pure Poe, filtered through the sensibility of Lou Reed, whose zesty, decadent interpretation captures Poe's raw madness and genius. (Lest you think the collection is humorless, you will never again hear a faux-jazzy lounge singer's interpretation of a Broadway song without recalling Steve Buscemi's spot-on take-off, "Broadway Song.")
Seemingly from another world, Donovan's musical setting of "El Dorado," on "Sutras," is both driving, with its complex guitar work, and evocative, with a yearning melody.
"Over the Mountains of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly, ride," the shade replied,
"If you seek for Eldorado."