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WHY? founding member and lead man Yoni Wolf pays tribute to another adept phrase turner with this cover of Pavement’s “Shoot The Singer (1 Sick Verse),” from that band’s 1992 EP Watery, Domestic. Wolf is sitting alone at the piano here, so it’s a rearrangement bathed more in the sort of bathos we heard on the first single from WHY?’s forthcoming LP, “This Blackest Purse.” In his own words:

I heard [“Shoot The Singer (1 Sick Verse)” recently and I just always have liked that song. I like that EP a lot, but that song specifically, I took to it. So today and yesterday, I just thought, “well, let me try to learn it.” I learned it on the piano and just like everything, I always make everything slow and dark. But their version is, I don’t want to say danceable, but it’s a little more driving.

Now, in his own voice:


Compare with the Malkmus:

Yoni’s cover comes from a session recorded for thebaybridged.com, who also had him do similarly toned interpretations of Alopecia’s “Brook & Waxing” along with “Against Me” and the title track from their forthcoming full-length Eskimo Snow. Grab MP3s of all of them here.

Eskimo Snow is out 9/22 in the US via anticon and 10/5 in the UK via Tomlab.

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Comments (18)
  1. Thx for ruining a classic, omg. This is just horrible, EVEN worse than when Cat Power covered We Dance.

  2. Back Left Litz  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    Awesome…weirdly enough was just listening to Watery, Domestic before I stumbled upon this, the guy does a good job of imbuing the song with the emotion Pavement always tucked deep within their songs. Even though both Malkmus and Wolf don’t have particularly emotional voices.

  3. There’s a great cover of Shoot the Singer by Saloon on the compilation ‘Everything Is Ending Here ? a Tribute to Pavement’. Looks like someone’s put it up on YouTube (it’s crackly in parts, unfortunately):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vu23bg7gfo8

  4. reallyawful  |   Posted on Aug 5th, 2009 0

    WHY do this guy and his band bother existing? What an awful cover.

    • Jesse  |   Posted on Aug 6th, 2009 0

      Screw off, WHY? is awesome. If he just sat down and learned a song I don’t expect perfection, and it’s very much his style. If you had actually listened to Alopecia you wouldn’t be saying nay about WHY?, they’re phenomenal.

      • why ask why...try bud dry  |   Posted on Aug 6th, 2009 0

        Why? definitely has some good stuff but let’s be honest- this is a bad cover of an amazing song. it just doesn’t translate well to a piano ballad.
        “I learned it on the piano and just like everything, I always make everything slow and dark.”…slow? yes. dark? not really. annoying? pretty much.

  5. This is ridiculous. The slowed down melody did not work out. This guy has a more nasal vocal than even Conor Oberst. Is he faking it or what, his whole persona sucks and is so irritating. If only he had the ability to write half as good and witty lyrics as Malkmus.

  6. This is pretty terrible.

  7. Well Hung Ike  |   Posted on Aug 6th, 2009 0

    The real question on everyone’s mind, is when will Yoni Wolf get around to doing that album of early K Records covers he promised.

    WHY? Covering the likes of Tiger Trap, Lois, Kicking Giant, Cub, Six Cents & Natalie.

    Eventually, he and Bend Folds can tour together; opening for the dynamic touring duo of Billy Joel & Elton John. A show that kids can enjoy with their parents and grandparents.

  8. Fantastic! The Wig Master is still my favorite cover he did.

  9. bobo  |   Posted on Aug 6th, 2009 0

    i dont usually comment but, wow, someone force this dude into retirement

  10. Apparently “Amazing!” or “Horrible!” are the only opinions we have to choose from today.

    • Horribly Amazing  |   Posted on Aug 6th, 2009 0

      no, there’s also “dingle berry yogurt gag slime” to choose from. I’m gonna go with that to describe this cover.

  11. Kurt  |   Posted on Aug 7th, 2009 0

    I love Pavement and I’m a fan of Why?, but this is superfluous. To me, Pavement is a band you don’t cover. Yoni and Malkmus don’t have great voices, and that’s what makes them unique and recognizable. I’d like to hear a Pavement cover of “A Sky For Shoeing Horses Under”. I give points to Why? for trying, but he should stick to his fucked up folk rock rap.

  12. Kerouac fan  |   Posted on Oct 19th, 2009 0

    Sorry, got my threads crossed. That last comment was for This Blackest Purse. All I can say is if this was a ‘great’ Pavement song, it doesn’t sound great the way Yoni does it, (on first listen),,,,,and I’m a huge Why? fan. signed, Al of Yahoo! Group: Beat_Happening.

  13. Kate  |   Posted on Dec 9th, 2009 0

    I think this is wonderful. I think that’s the whole point of a cover, to change the song up with different elements, like piano. If he made it just like Malkmus’, it would be boring.

  14. Wolf has a unique voice, and it works well for this song. Also, it’s about time Why should release a new album.

  15. How did I even survive 2009? Some of the daftest fucking comments on here – “his whole persona sucks” “pretty terrible” “force this dude into retirement” – it depresses me that anyone who ostensibly loves Pavement would talk such shit.

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