Song of the Day, March 4: I Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine by Beth Orton

OrtonNeverSawToday’s song is a beautiful, unexpected cover. Phil Spector wrote I Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine with Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich in 1965. He recorded it with the Ronettes, taking it on  an early trip to his Wall of Sound. The track was shelved for almost a decade, finally released as a non-charting single in 1974. It’s a fairly restrained presentation for Spector, but still loaded with drama, propelled by Ronnie Spector’s sterling vocal.

Another 20 years would go by before the song got more attention. This time trip-folk singer Beth Orton included it on her debut album, the sublime Trailer Park. Orton strips it bare, with the sparsest of backdrops. Her vocal is raw and vulnerable, one of her best performances. She finds the heart of the emotion that Spector almost buries, making the song truly her own. The loss and loneliness that are so well crafted in the lyrics shine through. Best known for her own folky electronica, Orton’s brilliant delivery of a cover is a wonderful musical moment.

Enjoy this aching song of loss today.

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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