What came first, the chicken or the egg? Or in this case Iron & Wine’s stripped down and soulful rendition of “Such Great Heights” or The Postal Service’s Indie-pop synth sounds?
You may be shocked to learn that the original version is indeed by The Postal Service. The version by Iron & Wine was popularized after appearing in the indie-hit “Garden State” and soon surpassed its predecessors popularity appearing almost exclusively in post-breakup bedrooms and wedding processional everywhere.
My personal criteria for a great cover involves it either sounding drastically different from the original or, even better, completely switching genres. Why bother doing a cover if you’re just going to mimic the original? Make it yours damnit! Iron & Wine’s version easily checks off these boxes.
The striped down melody, the plucky sound of strings, the soulful yearning of Sam Beam’s vocals all fit the tone of the song perfectly. Almost so perfectly that it’s hard to believe it didn’t come first! It’s a complete departure from the synth-pop beat of the original.
What I love about this cover is it’s hard to choose a favourite. They are both so different; the lyrics may be the same, but the moods of the song are changed entirely in each version.
Which version do you like better?