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J Mascis Has Recorded A Surprising Cover of Elliott Smith’s ‘Waltz #2′


J Mascis


Can you still call it a cover if the song is completely different? And I don’t mean about taking some liberty with the music, I am also talking about reinventing the lyrics, changing them and leaving only bits and pieces that makes people think about the song you are assigned to cover.

J Mascis’ cover of Elliott Smith’s ‘Waltz #2’ was posted by American Laundromat as part of ‘Say Yes! A Tribute to Elliott Smith’, an album which will be released on October 14th. The participations of Juliana Hatfield (‘Needle in the Hay’), Julien Baker (‘Ballad of Big Nothing’) and Yuck (‘Bled White’) had already been revealed the preceding weeks, and they were loyal to the originals, but this time Mascis is totally reimagining the song.

Listening to his take on ‘Waltz #2’ is like hearing a new song. Unsurprisingly, it’s all fuzz-out, with monster distortion and J’s typical ‘upbeat’ delivery, something I was expected from the frontman of Dinosaur Jr., but I didn’t expect him to also rewrite the song and the lyrics. J Mascis sings Elliott Smith and it exactly sounds and feels like a Mascis song, Elliott is barely there, and all is left are sentences like ‘I’m tired’, ‘leave me alone,’ and ‘on and on and on’.

Mascis does much more than covering the song here, he is getting its essence, he is echoing a feeling, re-interpreting an idea of a song. I don’t know. All I can say is that he is taking a risk, a big risk, changing the lyrics of one of Elliott Smith’s most beloved songs is tricky, most fans are gonna hate his version I guess, and it may explain why the comments have been disabled whereas they were allowed for the previous covers!




  1. Mary Hyland on October 7, 2016 at 7:15 am

    On the one hand I do admire anyone who is capable of thinking outside the box. This song, however, is really not a cover but more an interpretation of Waltz#2. Mascis, with all respect, is clearly not interested in performing a cover of this beloved Elliott song. It is an abstraction based upon a master that becomes something altogether different. And that’s perfectly ok. Elliott purists are just being protective while Mascis is perhaps trying to give it a different vibe or making it an altogether new song. For me, if you enjoy listening, it’s all good.

  2. Eric on May 20, 2018 at 2:20 am

    “Getting its essence” my ass. This is just ego and lack of respect. This “reinvented” song isn’t worthy of shining the shoes of the original.

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