Remakes: I want to be Johnny Cash’s Hurt

Remakes: Here I go again making it my own


I woke up this morning thinking about remakes and how we have to make things our own.  I am the new boss of an agency that had a longstanding leader. After that leader left, a successor was hired who couldn’t quite fill the longstanding leader’s shoes and was let go as a result.  He was not a successful remake, per se.  He was just a rebound, to use another misguided metaphor. In that same vein, I am glad to not be the rebound leader. However, I am very much aware I have a tall order on hand in trying taking on a new position that was for so long equated with a particular person.  As Andrew jackson noted a a rather long time ago,  “I’ve got big shoes to fill. This is my chance to do something. I have to seize the moment“.  The big shoes don’t scare me. I love shoes. I stockpile them under my desk and whip our random ones throughout the day and week for I have to keep people on their toes (bad pun intended).  As Marilyn Monroe noted  decades ago:

Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.”

Indeed, I feel mighty powerful in my shoes even when there are large ones that I have to fill.  But going back to my original train of thought, I am a remake. I am taking something that work and a process that was in place as set by my predecessor and I am remaking it into my voice. It’s my story and melody now.  This frame of mind got me thinking, though, about how sometimes remakes are just so horribly bad in popular culture. Take Gus Van Sant’s 1998 Psycho, for instance.  It’s remake was a complete ho hum experience and bore as it lacked any originality. The same often goes for songs that are remade. Or rather “covered.”  Have you heard Big & Rich’s remake of ACDC’s “You shook me all night long”?  Don’t, if you haven’t. The  original is no comparison. And I am saying this as not a big ACDC fan.   But the original is what it was and was full of its grandeur.
We have to be careful when we try to make things are our. American Idol was vastly popular because, at times, the budding singers truly dug deep and brought a new spin on an old song. Although, I don’t believe anyone ever truly succeed in covering a Whitney Houston song. People should just generally not try to do that.
I will tell you two covers that really got to me.   When I was younger, I loved Nine Inch Nails. I just loved the energy, the anger, the frenetic nature of the music. Have you ever heard “Head like a Hole“?  That song gave one whiplash.  Good whiplash.  The song is the equivalent to undergoing a primal scream.  One of my other favorite Nine Inch Nails song is that of Hurt.
I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that’s real
The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything
When Nine Inch Nails sang those lyrics you felt anger attached to pain.  I loved the song. Its a good song for one’s youth.   Then I heard Johnny Cash’s Hurt remake. And that I truly felt. I truly feel.   I played that song while on the treadmill and I felt my eyes well up. You start thinking of aging and what you have become.    You start thinking of your legacy. I invite you to listen to that song and not feel something.   That was a remake that just took one to a whole new meaning with the same words.   Is that not one tries to do when taking on a new position that someone else held?  We want to leave a legacy.  Question is how do we go about it?
A more recent remake that I surprisingly ended up liking (although nowhere near as much as I liked Johnny Cash’s) is that of Ryan Adams’ cover of Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood. It is most bizarre remake in that it gives a heft to Swift’s song. I actually do not like Swift’s song at all. The remake I can listen to.   Now, translating that back to my analogy of the workplace. I rather be a great remake of a great song than making a song tolerable. But, either way, if one is bringing a uniqueness to the situation, own it and grow it.


I leave you with this parting Quote from Dr. Seuss:

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.


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