The FADER’s transgender charity covers compilation FADER & Friends Volume 1 is out now, available exclusively on Bandcamp until December 1, 2023. 100% of the proceeds go towards the Transgender Law Center, Mermaids, and Rainbow Railroad. Throughout the month of November, we’re speaking to the artists who contributed to the 44-song collection about the songs they covered.
“Joy Inside My Tears” comes right after “Isn’t She Lovely” on Stevie Wonder’s 1976 classic Songs In The Key of Life, which may be why the song hasn’t gotten the look it’s truly deserved. It’s an achingly vulnerable track with arguably more emotional depth than “Lovely,” and indie country artist Dougie Poole gives the song the tribute it deserves with his cover. With a full band in tow, Poole swaps Wonder’s orchestral vibe for something more intimate, streaked with steel-pedal guitar and a strong sense of communal joy.
Listen to the song below and buy the full album on Bandcamp. Scroll down to read Dougie Poole on the original song and his cover.
What's your first memory of this song?
Oh who knows.... Songs In The Key of Life is ubiquitous. It's basically woven into the fabric of the universe. "Joy Inside My Tears" is kind of a weird album track that I've always liked. My friend Mike Etten, who plays guitar in my band, spun it in the van recently and it got stuck in my head.
Why did you decide to record it as your cover?
I don't know. I just love it. It's an incredible song by Stevie Wonder, one of the most incredible artists and performers of all time. As such, in hindsight, I do not think it was necessarily a good decision for me to record it.
What does this song/band mean to you personally?
It taught me a valuable lesson, which is that just because a song is great and I enjoy singing it, it doesn't mean that it'll make a good recording. Don't get me wrong: I had lots of fun singing and playing with some old friends. And I'm truly grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this awesome compilation. Not to mention, we did it straight to tape, which is always a treat. Just keeping it real: the few times I've listened back to the track, all I can think is "Why on earth would anyone ever listen to this shit when they could just be listening to Stevie Wonder's version instead?"
What's another song you'd love to cover and why?
Well, we do old songs with my group all the time — Merle or Lucinda Williams. Elizabeth Cotten. The Carter Family. Whatever. I do them by myself too when I perform like that.
I don't really think of them as "covers" though. Like I get that "cover" is a word that means a simple thing, but the word itself kind of has this old-timey music business connotation to me, back from a time when songwriters and smaller artists got paid when a big artist would do their tune.... or maybe now it has this sort of reversed connotation in the contexts of Spotify playlists: Acoustic Indie Covers of 80's hits. It's just songs though. Lately, I love singing Prince and Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder... so I sit down and I "cover" them all the time! Usually, it sounds like fucking garbage :)