First Hit #1: July 27, 1985
The important thing about doing a cover is you have to make it your own. Paul Young, working with a Hall and Oates song that really isn’t that young, manages the trick quite well, making a much more novel arrangement by replacing the dominant organ of the original with sitar. The organ in the original was fine, and suited the song, but the sitar is a much lighter and less common sound, which makes the song stand out in a different manner. It is strange that the sitar has always been this fringe player for pop, since it has a great tone that I personally love to hear, but that makes the tracks where it’s a dominant instrument stand out on the radio. He also sings with a certain abruptness that is present in the original but simply emphasized by Young. What do I mean by that? The lines build to a certain point, and then drop down suddenly, as though it is trying to emulate the feel of the person in the song going away. The effect underlines the disappointment of a leaving lover, intentionally, and strengthens the song thematically. The original was pretty good, but Young’s version is better, and that’s what a cover should do.
The video is really weird by the way, at least the start of it, since it’s shot sort of like a memorial for the (still alive) Paul Young. It’s probably because black and white archival footage plus slow motion is TV shorthand for this person is dead.