I am one of the few that find Justin Vernon’s original version of Beth/Rest to be absolutely beautiful. I understand how people can say that it is cheesy, but it has grown on me and I really think the the synth, digital drums, and cheesy sax layered with his voice is absolutely brilliant… especially as a final track and following Lisbon, OH.
But… for the people who find it too sultry and can’t get past images that flash in their head of an 80’s movie montage… check out his most recent version. He stripped out all of the ‘cheese’ and performs it for NPR’s World Cafe… solo… on the piano.
Understandably, this song takes a completely different shape with him just playing the piano. True to Vernon style, though, he needs to experiment just a little and make it more interesting. He starts out this version in his rarely heard lower register. I actually really like it. I don’t think I like it more than the original… but he is really an amazing artist. Give it a listen.