Skyline Sessions

Video: Cameron Dezen Hammon Re-Envisions Iconic ’80s Songs

The Houston-based artist injects gender-fluidity into retro pop/alternative hits.

On her 2016 album Words Don’t Bleed, Houston-based singer-songwriter Cameron Dezen Hammon chose to record cover versions of songs by male artists and inhabit them from a female perspective. With the exception of the song “All You Do Is Talk” by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, every other song on Words Don’t Bleed was originally released in the ’80s. She tackles top-40 fare by Don Henley, George Michael and Bruce Springsteen, as well as postpunk/new-wave material by The Cure, Morrissey and New Order. While none of Hammon’s versions are straight-ahead covers of the original songs, some follow the originals closer than others, and Hammon even deviates wildly from certain originals, changing chord-structure and rearranging lyrical passages. But what really makes these versions different from typical covers is Hammon’s ability to alter the songs’ meanings simply by switching the narrator’s gender. For example, the troubled, predatory POV of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” is transformed into a self-interrogating, inward exploration in Hammon’s voicing.

Hammon, along with cellist Aimee Norris and guitarist Jimmy Cardoza, visited Houston Public Media’s Geary Studio to record The Cure’s haunting 1985 song “A Night Like This,” as well as Robert Palmer’s iconic 1986 hit “Addicted to Love.” As a bonus, Hammon also performed her original song “Mixtape.”

 

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