Back in 1999, legendary singer-songwriter Tom Waits released Mule Variations, an experimental and frequently startling 70 minutes of jazz and noise. Much like the way he ended his all-time classic LP Rain Dogs, Waits decided that an old-timey barrelhouse piano singalong was the proper way to end Mule Variations, and the result was the stirring New Orleans-influenced sound of ‘Come On Up To The House’.
Featuring Waits’ iconic gravelly voice and some beautifully subdued horn arrangements, ‘Come On Up To The House’ represents some of the most beautifully melancholy music that rests within Waits’ soul. It truly is one of his best songs, so it should come as no surprise that it has become a common choice for covers.
Willie Nelson probably gets the gold medal for his rendition of the song on his 2012 album Heroes, but Texas singer-songwriter Sarah Jarosz and Oregon folk band Joseph also have wonderful versions of the track. Do you know who also has a version of the song now? Tom Morello, who teamed up with X Ambassadors singer Sam Harris to bring the cover to life during Morello’s recent Spotify Sessions.
Mixing an acoustic strum with an electronic backbeat, Morello’s version of ‘Come On Up To The House’ is sanitized, safe, and generic, creating the complete antithesis of what makes Waits such a fascinating singer. Usually, the track is covered in a country or gospel style that fits with the song’s lyrics, but Morello and Harris decided to go with generic pop-rock instead. That works to their own detriment, as their version of ‘Come On Up To The House’ is a complete snoozefest.
One would think that Morello isn’t humanly capable of being boring. This is the man who turned a guitar into a DJ booth, a police siren, and a machine gun. Even during his more conventional outings, like Audioslave and The Nightwatchman, Morello could still hold your attention. But that’s not the case on ‘Come On Up To The House’, which is a laborious and anonymous sounding plod.
Morello should be gearing up to reignite the Rage Against the Machine reunion tour later this year. Hopefully, that will give him a strong reminder of just how revolutionary a figure he has been in the last 30 years of music and show him why he doesn’t need to put out pap like this.
Check out Morello’s cover of ‘Come On Up To The House’ down below.