Greg Dulli and Jacqui Naylor remember Bowie with new, acoustic versions of his songs.

greg dulli photo
Greg Dulli

{Updated] I expect to leave the David Bowie beat shortly, but today Greg Dulli released his largely acoustic cover of “Modern Love” for download. As is so often the case when Dulli covers a song, he changes the emphasis to see what that shift produces. In this case, the roughly strummed acoustic guitar is a time zone removed from the Bowie version—so much so that I wasn’t sure at first the track released wasn’t a mislabelled file.

The convivial bounce of the original becomes an earnest yearn, and melancholy cello drains the song of any exhilaration. While Bowie’s version makes “modern love” the song’s touchstone,” Dulli’s cover finds its emotional center in the line “but I try.” 

On his website, Dulli wrote:

I tried to record this song with the Whigs a while back and we just couldn't get it the way I wanted it," Dulli remarked. "With his passing last week, I was reminded of it and decided to finish it myself. The world is filled with love for David Bowie right now. It feels good. I feel inspired by his life.

Jazz vocalist Jacqui Naylor regularly appears at Snug Harbor, and she recently released a cover of “Space Oddity.” Naylor has found her niche as someone who adds rock elements to her jazz and jazz to rock interpretations. As a singer, she takes subtle liberties with Bowie’s melody that make felt the drama that Bowie’s vocal left to the narrative. Pianist Art Khu takes greater liberties, reharmonizing the chords to take it out of its early ‘70s sonic landscape while maintaining its air of alienation and isolation.

Both Dulli and Naylor are touring nationally this spring. Dulli's tour starts in New York's Bowery Ballroom on February 3 and bring him to Preservation Hall April 1 and 2. Naylor starts her spring tour in New York February 4 at Iridium, and while she doesn't have a New Orleans date on her schedule, she will have a new album, Ten, out later in the year.

If you’re looking for more acoustic Bowie covers, there’s a treasure trove of Brazilian versions by Seu Jorge on The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions. The album was released in 2005, and a number of songs from it appeared on the soundtrack to The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, but throughout Seu Jorge swaps theatricality for intimacy. He whispers the first verse of “Rock and Roll Suicide” in your ear, and his picking pattern replaces the energy of "Suffragette City" with a note of danger.

Updated 1:53 p.m.

The Jacqui Naylor Soundcloud player was added after the story was first posted, as was the paragraph on Dulli and Naylor's tours.