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Fleet Foxes’ Frontman Butchers ‘Corduroy’ for Fallon’s Pearl Jam Week — Rock Fail

LateNightWithJimmyFallon.com / Rick Diamond, Getty Images

Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold made a rare appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon for Pearl Jam week and decided to cover ‘Corduroy’ and holy s— was it bad! This video is a perfect example of how not to honor a band.

It’s been a minute since we’ve had a Rock Fail of this magnitude. It was mentioned multiple times that this was Pecknold’s first television appearance in 2 years. I don’t know why that’s noteworthy — nor am I familiar with his work — but after seeing his performance I wouldn’t be surprised if he vanished from the spotlight for a few more.

I’ve witnessed many performances of ‘Corduroy’ in person over the years. Some of them by Pearl Jam themselves, a few by local bands and have even covered it myself back in my band days. On none of those occasions have I witnessed such a poor interpretation of the song. Maybe it’s just my PJ super fan status speaking here, but this was bad… I mean grade school talent show bad.

Much of my problem with Pecknold’s cover is how neither guitarist seemed to fully nail down the main riff, which is a fairly easy one to learn for even beginner guitarists. It sort of sounds like the song we know… but only in a vaguely recognizable “Hey, I just learned to play guitar a couple months ago” way. The guitar tone is also way too clean and, for lack of a better term, sloppy sounding. Pecknold is using some weird chords and playing the song with a capo on the fifth fret, which makes the whole thing sound kind of off.

His singing was alright, but not great. Not that you have to sound exactly like Eddie to cover his songs, but Pecknold sounds more like Michael Stipe or a Diet Neil Young and that just doesn’t work for me in this instance. Drumming wasn’t awful, but was pretty meh. Overall, it just felt very phoned in. We definitely don’t want to take what you, clearly, can’t give, Mr. Pecknold.

I think any legitimate fan would’ve rather seen The Gaslight Anthem, Seether, Ben Harper or anybody else willing to put in the work to give PJ a proper tribute, as all of the aforementioned artists previously have and likely would have again. If you’re just going to go out and “wing it” on national TV, maybe that’s why you haven’t been on one in a couple years. Fail.


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