Courtney Barnett | photo by Mia Mala McDonals | courtesy of the artist
Courtney Barnett covers “I’ll Be Your Mirror” for the upcoming Velvet Underground tribute album
Covering any band is intimidating, let alone one as iconic as the Velvet Underground. However, Courtney Barnett does so effortlessly as she completely reimagines “I’ll Be Your Mirror.” Not out to imitate anyone, Barnett transforms the song into something entirely her own.
By the time Barnett is done, it sounds nothing like the Velvet Underground. The only comparison that could be made is to Reed’s performance of the track on their live album, 1969: Velvet Underground Live With Lou Reed Vol. 2. While Barnett has the same loose playing style as Reed, her version is entirely acoustic. Though she puts the track in an entirely new light, she still manages to capture its infectious and inexplicable magic. Even her signature dead-pan vocals even seem a bit more animated. While her minimalist approach seems like a big jump from the outlandishness of The Velvet’s it allows the lyrics to truly shine. Gorgeous lines like “when you think the night has seen your mind/that inside you’re twisted and unkind/let me stand to show that you are blind,” become even more poignant. The stripped-down delivery also allows for a new level of appreciation for Reed’s poetics.
“When I listen to ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’ and read the lyrics, I realize it’s a perfect song,” said Barnett in a statement. “I can relate to every inch of it. I just felt like I could get inside the world of this song.”
The album was executive produced by Hal Willner and features contributions from Iggy Pop & Matt Sweeny, Kirt Vile & The Violators, Michael Stipe, St. Vincent & Thomas Bartlett, Thurston Moore & Bobby Gillespie, Fontaines DC, Sharon Van Etten with Angel Olsen, The National’s Matt Berninger, and more.
You can listen to Barnett’s take on “I’ll Be Your Mirror” below.