Monday, November 5, 2007

Winnie the Pooh - The Chieftains

Howdy, folks! It's boyhowdy again, host of the folk-music coverblog Cover Lay Down, back at Kurtis' generous request to lay another sweet acoustic track upon your Disney-fied ears. I'm still a bit gigged up on candy corn, so what better way to take the edge off than with a silly song about everyone's favorite silly old bear? Today's tasty treat is an Irish Jig about a British bear beloved by a global generation, in part, because Disney reimagined these cute stuffed innocents as American. Ladies and gentlemen: THE CHIEFTAINS take on Winnie The Pooh.

Irish Trad-folk band The Chieftains are known for their covers and collaborations -- in addition to recording pretty much every traditional Irish song under the County Clare sun over a run of almost forty years, these immortals have convinced not one but two albums worth of guest musicians, from bluegrass heroes Jerry Douglass and Tim O'Brien to folk goddess Patty Griffin and alt-country geek Lyle Lovett, to join them at the overflowing trough of traditional pipe and bodhran tunes. But The Chieftains can go beyond the traditional with aplomb, and as if to prove it, they bring this same fine musicianship and craft to their cover of the theme song to Winnie The Pooh.

One of the things I love about The Chieftains version of Winnie The Pooh (as opposed, say, to the sweet simple version Carly Simon recorded as a theme song to the last "good" Winnie The Pooh television show, back before Disney dumped Christopher Robin for Darby, that tomboy pretender to the throne) is how playful it is. I mean, it's a jig, but then there's something squeaking in the background, and is that a tuba chugging around at the base of all this? It is, indeed.

The jaunty rendition brings just the right tone of childlike wonder to the tune -- to me, the joyful noise that results calls up images of Pooh and his friends taking a Sunday constitutional through the 100 Acre Woods, a forest glen frolic interrupted only for a mock-stately interlude that slowly swings back into the pipe and whistle and drum, the whirl of the woods around.

In the end, The Chieftans cover of Winnie The Pooh is a perfect reimagining of a wonderful, elegant little tune. But don't take my word for it. Hit the play button below, and hear for yourself. And when you're done, pick up your own copy of TAKE MY HAND: SONGS FROM THE 100 ACRE WOOD. Where else can you hear Kathy Lee Gifford and the Roo-ettes doing The Kanga-Roo Hop?

Need a further Disney coversong fix? No worries, mate! Kurtis keeps the archives up for your listening pleasure, and I've got an Alison Krauss cover of Baby Mine up today as part of a larger post on folkcover kidsongs over at Cover Lay Down. Enjoy!

Winnie the Pooh
The Chieftains

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