Musicians want to sound good. Of course. But there are astoundingly infinite conceptions of what it means to “be good”.
Take a traditional blues song as an example. It has been sung for almost a century, recorded dozens upon dozens of times, and now you are playing it at this very moment.
What is good? What is… correct?
Recreating a specific production quality of one particular recording? Using vintage pre-WW2 instruments? Using authentic 1972 amplifiers? Finding which single version sold the most in terms of dollars-adjusted-for-inflation and committing to the choices of that particular track’s authors so as to most effectively realize your return-on-investment? (dafuq?)
Or just playing it?
As long as I have known rock, there has been Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love. It was released in 1967, then covered countless times. And yes, the 1967 recording Disraeli Gears is iconic, no question. Respect.
But there are these other recordings of the song… Hendrix in 1969. Santana in 2010. And The Cream themselves, playing drastically different “versions” of the tune in 1967 before recording the album, and just a year later at their “Farewell Concert” in 1968.
And is it not still the song? Aren’t these performances, without question, Sunshine of Your Love?
If you feel moved to judgement by how different each performance is, I entreat you suffer that feeling and let it pass… Beyond, see what is then also the same about all these recordings.
Sunshine of Your Love has a life of its own, to me anyway… it has a suchness that is itself, independent of whatever original intention The Cream birthed. Artists create things, and release them upon those who would receive the creation. Many of these creations take on a life of their own, and morph in unexpected, yet still similar, ways.
And so –
A rougher live Sunshine by Cream, prior to recording Disraeli Gears.
An extended, more improvisational, take on the track at their 1968 Farewell concert
Jimi Hendrix rocking Sunshine in Stockholm, 1969
Santana’s Sunshine, 2010