Australian indie darling Courtney Barnett performed an MTV Unplugged concert in Melbourne last week, treating fans to a cover of Leonard Cohen‘s “So Long, Marianne”.
The cover came at the end of a set of reworked originals that saw the singer-songwriter translate some of her heavier, fem-rock anthems into softer, more melodic displays of a different kind of raw emotion, including “Avant Gardner” and “Depreston”. The whole concert, available on YouTube, is very reminiscent of Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged in New York, minus the candles and Meat Puppets covers.
But it was her cover of “So Long, Marianne”, from 1967’s Songs of Leonard Cohen, that saw Barnett make the difficult decision of how to go about covering the late legend, figuring out how to emulate the understated-yet-intense emotion inherent in Cohen’s low growl. It’s actually a similar question that Barnett faced when reworking her own songs: what approach to take? Does one try and build the songs up even more with added emphasis on melody to fill the void of amplification, or strip everything down and let the pain and loneliness in one’s voice be the amplification? Barnett, just like with the rest of her Unplugged performance, went with the latter.
Watch the video of Courtney Barnett’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s “So Long, Marianne”, or the entire concert, below:
Courtney Barnett – MTV Unplugged – “So Long, Marianne” [Leonard Cohen cover]
Courtney Barnett – MTV Unplugged – Full Show Playlist
Barnett is currently in the midst of an Australian tour, which keep her Down Under until she returns to the Northern hemisphere on January 18th to play at Wilco‘s Blue Sky Festival in Mexico. After that, she will depart on her first-ever solo run through the United States, which will see Barnett play 14 shows in less than three weeks across the country before closing out at the historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO. Tickets for that tour are available here.