Did Robin Williams Do the Worst-Ever Beatles Cover?
Anybody remember “Come Together,” that off-beat 1999 collab between comedian Robin Williams and human sound machine Bobby McFerrin? Far Out Magazine recently delighted in the cover’s “masterful take on the original’s iconic introduction, (with) Paul McCartney’s bassline swapped for Williams’ deep, layered vocals, which descant the same notes but add a different dimension entirely to this segment.” The rave goes as far as to call Williams’s vocal performance “scintillating.”
Um, can I beg to differ? This version of “Come Together” starts as a supremely dad-band version of the Beatles’ classic, with Williams sounding like he downed a few Heinekens in the garage before growling out a few verses with some guitar-toting neighbors. By the time McFerrin joins in, the song morphs into an overly produced, profoundly bland cover, covering up Bobby’s trademark acapella clicks and pops with layers of orchestrated nonsense. A sampled Williams cackle is sprinkled over the back end, perhaps to remind us that Williams is indeed a comedian.
At least we can’t blame Williams for this vanity project – master producer George Martin himself reached out to the comic for his concept album of Beatles covers, “In My Life.” Why pair up Williams and his Mr. Happy with Mr. Don’t Worry Be Happy? The two apparently were pals from their pre-fame days, but otherwise, the team-up appears to have been chosen for the same reason Martin reached out to “singers” like Jim Carrey and Goldie Hawn -- it just sounded weird enough to be interesting.
Is “Come Together” the worst-ever Beatles cover by a famous comedian? Surprisingly, Williams has a lot of competition. Forget the Bill Shatner and Gal Gadot disasters -- in the world of comedy alone, the one-time Mork from Ork gets a serious run for his money. Is “Come Together” any worse, for example, than comic criminal Bill Cosby’s screechy take on “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band?” Seriously, why all the screaming, Cos?
Then there’s Milton Berle’s “Yellow Submarine,” which we hope to the high heavens isn’t a euphemism for Uncle Miltie’s famous appendage.
Let’s not forget Eddie Izzard talk-singing his way through a child’s nightmare version of “For the Benefit of Mr. Kite.” Show this to five-year-olds and they’ll never sleep again.
Yikes. On second thought, Williams and McFerrin sound pretty fab after all.