I am of the opinion that a really good song is a really good song, no matter what you do with it, and if you are a good and heartfelt musician, you can play with your song: glam em up, break em down, whatever, and it’s still good. So one of my favorite things is to hear songs I love in their beginning basic stages or when the artist can do them again in a surprising way. It’s a cool way to re-hear the construction of them with fresh ears.

David Bowie has a sense of humor, he does. Here’s the album take of his “Scary Monsters” from 1980, and a live acoustic “Johnny Cash”-style version from 1997.

I gotta say, I am just very charmed by the country/bluesy latter version. Even though Bowie seems to have his tongue firmly in cheek there, I think he is enjoying it too.

Radiohead is nothing if not dramatic. “You” from the Pablo Honey album is a roar of sound, with the quiet-build-explode-quiet song construction they helped form in the alt ‘90s.

What happens when you take the song down to just Thom on acoustic and Johnny on electric? Just as dramatic and emotional, because of the talent of the musicians and the quality of the song. You’ve got to commit to that one.

Bjork is an artist like Bowie – you expect to be surprised by them every time out because they seem to require it on a personal level. Neither one wants to go over old ground. Here’s Bjork’s big booming hit “Human Behavior.”

And here she is doing the song in 1994 with just a harpsichord and identical live vocals. Wow! No one like her. Iceland should make her Queen Of Everything.

The Shins are a superb band with a boatload of very literate, listenable, and danceable pop songs, and a soaring pure singer in James Mercer. Here in “Split Needles” from “Wincing The Night Away,” we hear two very different takes; the first made it onto the album and the decidedly more uptempo version only on a CD single of “Phantom Limb.”

They are so different from each other, one wonders if the band has other takes as well – one done big band style, one like Elvis, who knows.

We will end this post (because this could go on FOREVER in fun and I have to get back to vacation packing). Here is the swinging new dance combo, the Beatles, doing their zingy hit “Back In The USSR” from the “White Album.” It’s all pounding piano and hot guitar and Beach Boys-style backing vocals.

But this song started life in sleepy Esher, the accountant/doctor/solicitor-riddled London suburb. It’s so sweet, it almost sounds like they were doing it at a girls’ sleepover party. Well. Hmm.

Tomorrow, Back To The C-A-L-I! Thanks for the vid help, wn!