Theres a rule of thumb that usually works very well that states that no-one sings a song quite like the person who wrote the song can sing it, but in this instance that rule is not applicable.
Paul Weller was only six years of age when Gordon Lightfoot wrote the song “Early Morning Rain” but throughout Weller’s beloved 1960s era the song was successfully recorded by several folk and country artists and was a chart hit for Lightfoot himself – and also for Bob Dylan who did a sublime version on an obscure album that I heard once in a darkened room at a gatecrashed party in student digs in Woodhouse which were otherwise marked by the fact that we were rumbled and chased down the street by a rugby team, but thats another story.
I like Paul Weller, but I like his recent incarnation rather than his Jam or Style Council days, he is a good example of a voice and style that matures with age and nothing that he has produced in the last ten years has not been worth listening to.
I also like him because even when he was just a teenager playing in assorted bands his dad would take him to gigs, hang around and then take him home again, and he did this right through The Jam and The Style Council days becoming Wellers personal roadie and manager, I connect with that having worked with my own father for ten years, its not always easy and you have to lose the normal father/son rules for business ones, but its also rewarding for the time you spend together and the stories you have to share.
Is Paul Wellers version of Early Morning Rain better than the original songwriters, well we’ll have to wait another 20 or so years to hear Weller sing it in his 70s but for now…