Bob Dylan is among six acts appearing on a new compilation EP that features “reimagined” versions of traditional wedding songs for same-sex couples. Universal Love opens with Dylan’s rendition of the 1929 great American songbook classic She’s Funny That Way, revamped as He’s Funny That Way.
Rob Kaplan, the compilation’s producer, told the New York Times that Dylan was enthusiastic about the project. “And it wasn’t just, ‘Yes, I’ll do this’, it was, ‘Hey, I have an idea for a song.’”
The compilation also features contributions from St Vincent (AKA Annie Clark), who turns the Crystals’ And Then He Kissed Me into And Then She Kissed Me. Kesha flips the pronouns on Janis Joplin’s I Need a Man to Love, as does Valerie June on Noël Coward’s Mad About the Boy.
“For years I said that I’m not getting married until any two people can legally marry in this country,” Kesha told the New York Times, while Valerie June said her version of Coward’s song restored it to its original intentions: “It brings the song full circle to know that it was written by a gay man who meant every single word of Mad About the Boy.”
Completing the tracklist, Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard switches the Beatles’ And I Love Her to And I Love Him, while Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke does the same with the Temptations’ My Girl. The project required permission from the songs’ original publishers, and received a “completely positive” response, said Kaplan.
The EP was funded by MGM Resorts International, and its songs are intended to serve as wedding songs for same-sex couples. MGM’s chief executive, Jim Murren, told the New York Times that gay weddings make up 20% to 30% of the ceremonies performed at the company’s 15 Las Vegas hotels.
“If you look at the history of pop music, love songs have predominantly come from one heterosexual perspective,” said Tom Murphy, a co-producer of Universal Love. “If we view music as something that brings people together, shouldn’t these popular songs be open to everyone?”