At a time when live music has been off the menu for so long we’re forgetting how it feels to stand on sticky floors and smell the sweaty audience, now feels like a suitable time to revisit Mac DeMarco and his cover of guitar maestro Eric Clapton. Delivered with his typical “jizz-jazz” style and substance, the indie musician brings his now-iconic sliding guitars and lighter than light vocals to the forefront.
Originally written for John Travolta’s fantasy romantic film Phenomenon, DeMarco released his special cover as part of The Editorial Magazine’s first cassette compilation releases a couple of years back. The release, entitled ‘Editorial & Friends’ also includes covers from Blood Orange, Wauters, Mozart’s Sister, TOPS, Blue Hawaii, Doldrums, Sean Nicholas Savage and many more.
“It’s all love songs this time,” DeMarco told NPR. “It’s just kind of like every angle of how somebody might feel if they’re having strange feelings in their chest.”
While ‘Change the World’ was made famous by Clapton’s release in 1996, the material was actually first written by Gordon Kennedy, Tommy Sims and Wayne Kirkpatrick. “‘Change the World’ was a song written over a year by Tommy Sims, Wayne Kirkpatrick, and myself. On a recording session in Quad Studios in Nashville, in the early ’90s, Wayne and I were recording some demos in an attempt to do the ‘artist’ thing,” Kennedy once explained in an interview with American Songwriter. “When I got home, I went into the studio and did a guitar practice and all of the vocals for a finished demo, the one Clapton heard later. None of the three of us were together when we wrote what we each wrote on the song.”
Of course, while the song was clearly established, it wouldn’t receive major attention until Clapton got his hands on it, a decision which would later lead to major critical acclaimed and result in a remarkable triple Grammy Award victory. “When I heard Tommy Sims demo, I could hear Paul McCartney doing that, so I needed to, with greatest respect to Paul, take that and put it somewhere black. So I asked Babyface who, even though he may not be aware of it, gave it the blues thing,” Clapton later told Mojo magazine.
He continued: “The first two lines I play on that song on the acoustic guitar are lines I quote wherever I can, and they come from the beginning of ‘Mannish Boy’ by Muddy Waters. On every record I make where I think, this has got a chance of doing well, I make sure I pay my dues on this. So I think I’ve found a way to do it. Still, it has to have one foot in the blues, even if it’s subtly disguised.”
For now though, stream DeMarco’s version of ‘Change The World’, below.