Saturday, December 04, 2010

a cover of Cage

From "Do They Know It's Christmas" to "4'33"?

I love this. A group of British artists have gotten together to record a "cover" of John Cage's silent "4'33"! Here is a brief report on this from Pitchfork, which thanks to Willa Granger for pointing it out to me.

In the UK, the race to become the number one song in the country at Christmas is a big deal. Last year, a Facebook campaign succeeded in making Rage Against the Machine's years-old track "Killing in the Name" the Christmas number one, upsetting X Factor winner Joe McElderry. This year, an indie-leaning all-star group of artists is attempting the same thing, with a "cover" of John Cage's experimental piece "4'33"", which famously consists of four minutes and 33 seconds of silence.

The group of artists getting together to record the new version of "4'33"" are using the name Cage Against the Machine, naturally. Their number includes Pete Doherty, Billy Bragg, producer Paul Epworth, and members of the Big Pink, the Kooks, UNKLE, Orbital, Coldcut, and many others. (More artists may join up.) They'll all gather at London's Dean Street Studios on December 6 to record the track, and director Dick Carruthers will film it. Wall of Sound will release it-- along with "pocket remixes" by Hot Chip, Herve, Adam F, and Mr. Scruff -- on December 13. (It's tough to imagine how a remix of silence will sound, but it's happening.) And even though this version hasn't been recorded yet, there's already a Facebook campaign to get it to number one.

Proceeds from the single will go to five charities, including the British Tinnitus Association. Britain has a long tradition of "We Are the World"-esque all-star charity singles topping the charts; check Pitchfork contributor Tom Ewing's long-running Popular blog, which reviews every British number one ever, for evidence. But if this particular track succeeds in hitting the top spot, it'll be a massive coup for quixotic conceptual stunts. A college professor once told me that "4'33"" ended music forever, so maybe this release will end all-star charity singles forever?