“Pablo Picasso” is one of the best songs from the Modern Lovers’ 1970 self-titled debut, a near-perfect album of proto-punk weirdness. In his befuddled deadpan drawl, Jonathan Richman lamented all the ways in which the world fails to treat most of us the way they treat art-world heroes: “Well, some people try to pick up girls and get called assholes / This never happened to Pablo Picasso.” Jack White has now tried out his own version of the song, and he has naturally stripped away all the idiosyncratic flatness and transformed it into a blues-rock rave-up.
White, the avowed luddite, seems like the last person who might record a live-in-studio jam for Spotify, but he’s done it anyway. White has just shared his new Spotify Single, which includes a live take on “Over And Over And Over,” one of the singles from his bugged-out new album Boarding House Reach. And he also spends six and a half minutes on a cover of “Pablo Picasso.”
White has, in effect, turned a Modern Lovers classic into a Boarding House Reach deep-cut. In its new form, the song has no structure; it’s just a long, scratchy vamp full of erratic, stabby guitar solos and White’s own deranged yelp. Artists are supposed to bring their own personalities to the songs that they cover, but this one is still pretty hard to hear. Check it out, along with the new version of “Over And Over And Over” below.