Watch Michael Stipe’s Wistful Cover of David Bowie’s ‘Ashes to Ashes’ at NYC Tribute Concert
Michael Stipe was one of many artists to perform at the two “Music of David Bowie” tribute concerts in New York City at the beginning of the month, and now, the former R.E.M. singer has shared his thoughts on the experience and his full cover of “Ashes to Ashes.”
Stipe delivered a wistful, stripped-down version of the song with vocal accompaniment from Karen Elson and Paul Cantelon on piano -- watch it above. Stipe also shared a note, calling the concerts “stunning” and an “honor.” He also named “Ashes to Ashes” and “The Man Who Sold the World” (the latter of which he covered on Fallon the night before the tribute shows) two of his “top 20 favorite songs of all time”:
To play carnegie hall and radio city music hall is, in itself, a huge honor–they are incredible venues each with incredible histories. for carnegie in particular, i wanted the room to be the main instrument. its reverberation and energy is profoundly weighted and airy all at once—it can transform music into something holy— so that informed our arrangement choices for ‘ashes to ashes’. radio city music hall is a way different room, but equally resonant. it was two stunning evenings, hearing songs that i grew up with, all contributors honoring the output of such an astonishing songwriter. for myself, including the performance on the tonight show starring jimmy fallon, in one week i got to interpret and perform two of my top 20 favorite songs of all time. a giant thank you is due to especially paul cantelon and karen elson for their help in pulling this off–and to shlomo lipetz and michael dorf for including me, paul and karen.
Stipe, the Pixies, Cat Power, J Mascis, the Mountain Goats, Wayne Coyne and more all performed at the two concerts at Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall in honor of the late singer, who passed away at the beginning of the year.