Versions of “Annie’s Song”, in order of preference:

1/ The “Greasy Chip Butty” song, which effortlessly out-poetries Denver in the content-meets-form sensory hit of its images and hence taps directly into the spirit of the song. Not that I’ve actually heard it in a terrace setting, but it’s a thing of wonder anyhow.

2/ Version I played on an acoustic guitar, c.1990. Its hesitancy – though dictated by practical, not artistic, considerations – brought out the fragile beauty of Denver’s melody better than the original, which buries it under orchestral syrup. This is the only song on the whole of Popular I have ever actually performed, hapless karaoke and playground Paul Hardcastle beatboxing attempts notwithstanding.

3/ Version my Dad played in the mid-70s on his cassette recorder. Pedants might insist that this version was in fact the original but memory and love tell a different story – my Dad’s tastes in pop centre on sentimental country music and he enjoyed this one with a total sincerity I think Denver can’t actually achieve and perhaps doesn’t deserve. One of my earliest and haziest pop memories.

4/ Denver’s actual record, disappointingly feeble in comparison.

Score: 4

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