Kevin Morby, Waxahatchee – “Farewell Transmission”
By: Jesse Benitez
Already being a fan of Jason Molina, the man behind Songs: Ohia and creator of Magnolia Electric Co., I was immediately struck when hearing this version of “Farewell Transmission,” released in 2018 by indie rockers Kevin Morby and Waxahatchee. The tune, originally from Molina’s Magnolia Electric Co. (2003), is timeless, and has always seemed inimitable to me. Morby and Waxahatchee, however, demonstrate that their rendition of the song is not about replication, but about cherishing the enchantment of the original tune. The collaboration of these two artists on this iconic song brought out some of the most emblematic melodies of the track, from the sliding shrills of the steel guitar, to the pulsing cymbals in the drum beat. The muzzling, hazy echoes lingering from the steel guitar enclose the delicate vocals of the singers.
The softness of this tune is what makes it so otherworldly, yet simultaneously, its sadness is what grounds me back in reality— for the awareness and acceptance of unfulfillment in life that it concocts. When inspecting deeply into what this song is truly about, it becomes clear that it’s profoundly dismal while at the same time, an effort to resurrect from one’s old self or past.
We’re often taught to believe that covers are somehow lesser than the original work; substandard to. I think that’s a notion that needs to be abandoned. More often than not, covers bring out the best within the original work while incorporating an artist’s own love letter to the story. The cover made me recognize that no matter who performs the song in whichever way, “Farewell Transmission” is one of the greatest soul-searching songs ever written.