Before he died of COVID-19 last month, the longtime Saturday Night Live music producer Hal Willner was working on putting together a tribute compilation dedicated to the songs of Marc Bolan and T. Rex. This fall, that album, entitled AngelHeaded Hipster will finally come out. It’s set to feature a strange, fascinating collection of artists: U2 with Elton John, Kesha, Father John Misty, Joan Jett, both of John Lennon’s sons. We’ve already posted Nick Cave’s take on “Cosmic Dancer.” Today, we get another selection.
Devendra Banhart, the psychedelic folk artist, has been pretty busy lately, releasing the album Ma last year and collaborating with Mykki Blanco on “You Will Find It” last month. For the T. Rex tribute, Banhart has gone deep into Bolan’s history and found a relatively absurd song that fits his whole aesthetic.
Bolan was just 20 when Tyrannosaurus Rex, the early version of T. Rex released their debut album My People Were Fair And Had Sky In Their Hair… But Now They’re Content To Wear Stars On Their Brows. Banhart has turned in a softly tingly, generally faithful take on “Scenesof,” one of the songs from that album. Willner played synths and electronics on Banhart’s version. (Fun fact: If you Google around, looking for the T. Rex song “Scenesof,” you’ll mostly find videos of the T. Rex attack from Jurassic Park.) The whole Tyrannosaurus Rex album is up on YouTube here, and you can hear Banhart’s version below.
In a press release, Banhart says:
I was completely in love with Marc Bolan, from John’s Children to Dandy In The Underworld and everything in between. I remember the feeling of freedom I got from “Scenescof”… “I don’t need anyone to dictate all my fun smile your smile and then run”… That line gave me the courage to carve out a little bit of fantasy in my life back in my late teens… But now, the song will be inextricably linked with mourning, it was the last time I was in a studio with my dear dear friend Hal Willner… I haven’t even begun to process the heartbreak of that loss… We were just texting about Jerry Lewis and sending each other links to funny videos and weird songs and two weeks later he was gone… Hal had the coolest, calmest demeanor… the kind that comes from having had really been through some shit and come out of it still caring about life, the world, and art… I will miss him terribly… To two angel headed hipsters, I’m honored to be a part of this tribute album ….
AngelHeaded Hipster: The Songs Of Marc Bolan And T. Rex is out 9/4 via BMG. Pre-order it here.