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Beck Declares His 'Love' in John Lennon Cover

Track will appear on upcoming Starbucks compilation

Beck
Gina Ribisi
January 2, 2014 2:30 PM ET

Beck is ready to celebrate romance with his charming new cover of John Lennon's "Love," which will appear on Starbucks' Sweetheart 2014 compilation (out February 4th). The record will also feature music from Vampire Weekend, The Head and the Heart, Fiona Apple, My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James, Sharon Jones and more.

The original "Love" was a stirring, almost somber piano ballad that was co-produced with Phil Spector for Lennon's 1970 effort John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. Now, anchored by steady, slightly peppy acoustic strumming, Beck honors the original with yearning guitar lines and deep vocal harmonies that add just the right amount of gravity.

Beck is expected to release a new album, Morning Phase, in February; it will be his first proper LP since 2008's Modern Guilt. Back in 2012, Beck released Beck Hansen's Song Reader, a collection of songs available only as individual pieces of sheet music; he recently assembled a star-studded cast, including Jarvis Cocker and Jack Black, to help him perform the songs live in London and Los Angeles.

In a recent interview with the Argentine newspaper Página/12, Beck said his sporadic musical output over the past few years was due to "severe damage to [his] spine," though his health has improved significantly since. The musician recently opened up to Rolling Stone about Morning Phase, which was recorded with the same band that played on his 2003 LP Sea Change and which he described as "California music."

Beck noted the record has something of an overarching concept, in that each song takes place in the early hours of a new day. "It's not heavy-handed, but it's in there," Beck said. "There's this feeling of tumult and uncertainty, getting through that long, dark night of the soul – whatever you want to call it. These songs were about coming out of that – how things do get better."

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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