Chan Marshall has been recording covers for many, many years. For most of that time, her process has been to strip a song down to almost nothing and then to use that song to project haunted desperation. Consider the her famous 2000 version of the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” which managed to remove the song’s central riff and its frustrated horniness, leaving only a raw, wounded need. But on a new cover, Cat Power has gone in a whole different direction.
“What The World Needs Now” is a classic 1965 easy-listening pop chestnut from the famous songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Jackie DeShannon recorded the original version of the song and took it to #7 on the US charts. Dionne Warwick, Mahalia Jackson, Luther Vandross, and dozens of others have covered it. Diana Ross recorded two different versions — one with the Supremes and one without. Bacharach himself sang it in Austin Powers In Goldmember.
A couple of months after returning with the gorgeous album Wanderer, Cat Power has now shared her own version of “What The World Now.” (She’s covered it live for at least a few years, and this version previous appeared on a deluxe vinyl version of Wanderer.) Her take on the song is almost shockingly faithful — bright and jazzy, with sprightly piano and strings and woodwinds. On the first few listens, it sounds like it could be the most confident song in the Cat Power discography — though if a song’s whole thesis is that there’s not enough love in the world, maybe you can’t really call it “confident.” Listen below.
Wanderer is out now on Domino.