Life is not always easy for those musicians who choose to master lesser-known instruments. “You play what now?” is the inevitable response from members of the general public, their faces clouded by confusion. Ted Yoder of Goshen, Arkansas, must be very familiar with those blank stares and shrugged shoulders by now. His instrument of choice is the hammered dulcimer. Despite its name, this is not just a regular dulcimer being played by someone who’s pathetically drunk. Instead, it’s a percussion instrument that produces musical tones when its strings are hit by small, spoon-shaped mallets. Interesting, no? In a way, the hammered dulcimer isn’t really that exotic. Pianos produce sounds in a similar way, and those things are everywhere. The hammered dulcimer, however, has to content itself with permanent bridesmaid status. But what, really, can a person even do with such a contraption? Well, Yoder can play one hell of a cover of “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” a chart-topping 1985 hit for English synth duo Tears For Fears.
What’s remarkable about Yoder’s video is that, even though the hammered dulcimer is a folk instrument with roots stretching back at least as far as ancient Greece, his version is not quaint or old-timey in the slightest. Nor does it particularly hearken back to the 1980s. It’s just lovely and melodic in a way that doesn’t belong to any particular era. Part of the credit must go to composers Roland Orzabal, Ian Stanley, and Chris Hughes. Their song has had quite an afterlife in its 31 years, including cover versions by Lorde and Patti Smith, plus prominent uses on True Blood, Glee, and Mr. Robot. The song’s origins are famously modest. According to The Billboard Book Of Number One Hits, Orzabal once said, “I really didn’t think it was any good. It sounded so very un-Tears For Fears to me.” In retrospect, Yoder’s pastoral remake shows that Orzabal was both right and wrong about his own composition.
This slightly longer version of the video gives a little context to the performance. Apparently, Yoder was a little frustrated when he recorded this, since his wi-fi can be a little spotty out in the country. It really makes him want to shout, shout, let it all out. These technical difficulties are the things he can do without. But there are bonuses to living out in the boonies, too. Yoder and his family are on very good terms with a raccoon, for instance. Not too many city slickers can say that.
[via Laughing Squid]