Some time ago I got a query from a reader wondering about “1960s-era garage band” versions of “SJI.” I wasn’t able to offer him much help. Having checked over the site, he figured that the versions by the Animals or the Standells were the best bets, and I couldn’t come up with anything else. Even after I asked for some clarity on what exactly defines “garage band” rock. (He sent this link, which helped.)
I was reminded of this when in a routine YouTube check I encountered the Standells version. This fits with this weird category of non-video videos on YouTube: A song plays and we see a montage put together by some fan. Although in this case, it’s not even a montage, just a static shot of the cover to their album Try It. But if you’re curious to hear a garage-band-ish version, here it is. It’s kind of a claustrophobic take, very dense and snarly, and the vocals tilt into borderline-Cobain screaming (per Nirvana’s take on “In The Pines”) toward the end.
To be frank, I’m not sure if it makes the cut as garage band music or not.
Lyrically, the take is pretty traditional, with the full Old Joe’s Barroom format (and using the “never be another like her” construction, rather than “never find another man like me” — a cardinal sin in my view.) One interesting flourish is that on the narrator’s left stood not Old Joe McKennedy, but “Old John Henry.” Nice cameo by a character from a different storied ballad!