By the summer of 1998, the song “Torn” was practically unavoidable. I used to join a friend on an annual summertime jaunt intended to hit as many Major League ballparks as we could over a long weekend. While we always made sure the vehicle was stocked with plenty of mix tapes (competitively so), part of the ritual was scanning through local radio, including carefully cataloging which songs we heard the most. On that trip, “Torn” was the clear winner (though, to be fair, we likely zipped right past “The Boy is Mine,” which topped the Billboard charts for essentially the entire summer). I’m referring, of course, to the version of “Torn” recorded by Natalie Imbruglia, an important distinction to make because there exists a small musical mountain of different takes of that particular song.
As Ednaswap lead singer Anne Preven once told Spin magazine, “you could make a 12-song album and call it Torn.” Co-written by Preven, her bandmate Scott Cutler, and producer Phil Thornalley, Ednaswap’s first recorded version of the song appeared on their 1995 self-titled album. Before they even got to it, though, a Danish singer named Lis Sørensen released a version (translated to “Brændt”). In 1996, Norwegian performer Trine Rein offered up another pass at the song. And all the while, Ednaswap kept reworking “Torn,” releasing a different, grungier take on the 1996 EP Chicken and this a slightly remixed version of that of their sophomore album, Wacko Magnetic, from 1997. Basically, a bunch of music professionals were convinced this song was a major hit waiting to happen, and they kept tinkering with it like someone engaged in trial, error, retreat, and modification of a particularly vexing puzzle. It was Thornalley, orchestrated of many of the versions, who finally happened on the proper combination, not coincidentally the one that involved a photogenic, sexy yet approachable female singer who’d developed screen charisma working on an Australian soap opera.
Once I figured out there was an indie-acceptable version of the song I there, I was on the hunt (it really is an irresistible song), eventually finding a copy of Chicken at one of the local outlets that had rows upon rows of used CDs. I have a weakness for covers, which intensifies when it’s actually earlier and original versions of songs that are far better known for their later covers. It’s a manifestation of that elitist, know-it-all, dumb hipster snob inside of me, the one that — let’s face it — all intense music fans have as some embarrassing part of their DNA. I’m not necessarily proud of it, but I can admit it.
Listen or download –> Ednaswap, “Torn”
(Disclaimer: I believe Chicken is out of print, though a CD copy can apparently be purchased for two cents off of Amazon. I’m not sure about the rest of the Ednaswap discography, but surely Preven and Cutler made a tidy sum off of Imbruglia’s recording, since songwriters are usually generously rewarded for airplay. So I don’t really feel all that bad for sharing this track here, and I certainly intend no fiscal harm to them or anyone else. Still, I know the rules. I will gladly and promptly remove this track from the internet if asked to so so by any individual or entity with due authority to make such a request.)