It's not me; it's you
August 8, 2017 10:02 AM   Subscribe

So I was listening to/watching Prince's famous cover of "Creep", and as ever my head spun about the way he flipped the song from first person ("I'm a creep/What the hell am I doing here?/I don't belong here") to second person ("You're a creep/What are you doing here?/You don't belong here"). While I can think of many, many cover versions that flip the gender to change the song dramatically, I cannot for the life of me, think of another cover that flips the voice from first person to second like that. Are there others? Or is this another case of Prince being a singular genius?

I figured it couldn't hurt to ask. And even if the answer is "No, there aren't any" I gave some people an excuse to watch a great Prince video, so there is that.
posted by DirtyOldTown to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I know of a Chinese rock song that does. I've heard it as (translated): "Embracing you, I see you are crying; has loving me has caused you pain and heartbreak?" to "Embracing you, you see I am crying; has loving you has caused me pain and heartbreak?"

The song is originally by a man, but when sung by a woman she changes it so that she is the crying one.

The song is called Zhizhuo 执着, and is originally by Xu Wei 许巍
posted by bearette at 10:13 AM on August 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

Not a cover, but the first time I heard the chorus on the demo version of Brass in Pocket, my heart nearly stopped.
posted by sageleaf at 10:19 AM on August 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

Kirsty MacColl's cover of 'A New England' does some of this.
posted by Catseye at 10:24 AM on August 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

Funny that the Pretenders were mentioned, because flipping from first to second person is exactly what they did in their cover of the Persuaders' "Thin Line Between Love and Hate".
posted by ogooglebar at 10:32 AM on August 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

So did Annie Lennox, actually.

Sometimes in performance of "No Children," John Darnielle will flip the chorus from "I hope you die/I hope we both die" to "I hope we all die," which is a similar effect.
posted by praemunire at 10:35 AM on August 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

When Joan Baez performs "She Never Could Resist A Winding Road," she switches it from third-person to first-person (and makes a point of saying it, which makes me chuckle.)
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 11:35 AM on August 8, 2017

Julie London's version of "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" flips the voice from second person to first person on the bridge. I don't know if she was the first to perform it that way, but it's usually sung with the lyrics in first person: "Off with my overcoat/off with my gloves/who needs an overcoat?/I'm burning with love!" (or originally, "I need no overcoat/I'm burning with love")

But her version flips it to "Off with your overcoat/off with your gloves/you need no overcoat/I'm burning with love" which (along with the slow and sultry performance) makes it much, much sexier than the original.

(Dean Martin version | Julie London version)
posted by aabbbiee at 11:55 AM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's not exactly the same thing you're describing, but I think the two vocal parts of Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" have a similar effect. Kimbra's part turns the chorus around when she says "You said that you could let it go / and I wouldn't catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know."
posted by Pfardentrott at 12:50 PM on August 8, 2017

Whenever I hear Carolina Liar's I'm Not Over, I think how I'd like to hear the flipped version. "You're not over me just yet. I'm not that easy to forget."
posted by Bruce H. at 1:15 PM on August 8, 2017

Switching the grammatical person seems to be called a "shift in person", and the Google results combining that with the word lyrics are worth exploring.
posted by WCityMike at 1:17 PM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Beach Boys briefly toyed with a pronoun flip for live performances of "Help Me, Rhonda" into "Help You Rhonda".
posted by DiscountDeity at 3:51 PM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

This is an opposite scenario (second-to-first person), and don't judge me for posting this, but:

Limp Bizkit's version of "Faith" changes George Michael's original lyrics from

"I guess it would be nice if I could touch your body/
I know not everybody has got a body like you,"


"... I know not everybody has got a body like me,"

(which is extra annoying because then it doesn't rhyme with the following stanza ending in "too" anymore, but I mean, we're talking about Limp Bizkit here.)
posted by Paper rabies at 5:18 PM on August 8, 2017

Franz Ferdinand's No You Girls switches from "you girls never know how you make a boy feel" to "I never wonder how the girl feels" to "you dirty boys never care how the girl feels."
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 6:20 PM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Rasputina did a point of view-swapped cover of Marilyn Manson's Tourniquet that I like better than the original.

And if I'm remembering correctly, the Ryan Adams version of Style on his Taylor Swift 1989 cover album is also swapped in this way for a lot of it?
posted by helloimjennsco at 6:08 AM on August 9, 2017

3rd person to 1st: Aretha Franklin's "[I'm] Eleanor Rigby."
posted by pupsocket at 8:55 AM on August 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Dylan has done this himself with the lyrics to Tangled Up In Blue, which, depending on the version, use either first or third person for the same lyric. You can read a bit about that on Wikipedia.
posted by OmieWise at 10:56 AM on August 9, 2017

Alice Cooper does this sometimes on his song "Go To Hell".
posted by scivola at 11:15 AM on August 9, 2017

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