This is the 95th post in a weekly series. Read about it here and see the list of previous songs here. A new post about a different song is posted each Monday. You can listen to the songs in a Spotify playlist.

Hailing from Liverpool, The La’s was best known for “There She Goes,” a song first released in 1988 and re-released on the band’s 1990 self-titled album. The song, which has since been praised by the likes of Eric Clapton and Ben Gibbard, evokes both Britain’s late ’80s post-Smiths pop scene and the ’60s sounds that inspired the band.

“There She Goes” was only moderately successful, reaching Number 13 in the UK and Number 49 in the US. But it was the biggest hit for The La’s, and given that the band only released one album, there weren’t a lot of other singles. Frontman Lee Mavers insisted on re-recording the debut album, going through several producers, bringing the album cost to an alleged £1 million. Even though the album got good reviews, Mavers said it was rushed. He, with the rest of the band, disavowed “The La’s.” “We hate the album,” he reportedly told Smash Hits. “It never captured anything that we were about.”

The La’s never recorded another record, despite Mavers’ claims that he had ambitions to re-record the debut album to his liking. He disappeared from public for most of the ’90s, though he did come out of hiding a few times to grant bizarre interviews. In 1995, he told NME that thought his songs “sounded like a Nazi tank in Egypt,” though what that was supposed to mean was unclear. At the end of the ’90s, a fan of The La’s named Matthew Macefield decided to try to find Mavers, whom he dubbed “the J.D. Salinger of rock.” The result was a 2003 book called “In Search of the La’s,” in which Macefield told the tale of how he ultimately did find Mavers. The singer was initially warm and inviting, only to later say he wanted nothing of a book about him or his music. Mavers has come out of seclusion a few times to play live shows, in the decade and a half since that book came out, but The La’s has yet to record any new music.

Thus, as music writers and hardcore fans wondered what happened to Mavers and whether he’d ever record music again, “There She Goes” became the centerpiece of the legacy of The La’s. Many have interpreted the lyrics as references to heroin:

There she goes
There she goes again
Racing through my brain
And I just can’t contain
This feelin’ that remains
There she blows
There she blows again
Pulsing thru’ my vein
And I just can’t contain
This feelin’ that remains
There she goes, there she goes again
She calls my name, pulls my train
No one else could heal my pain
And I just can’t contain
This feelin’ that remains

Members of The La’s have denied this connection, and the song still works without it. It’s plausible that “There She Goes” could be about admiring a woman and nothing more. And even if Mavers had intended that when he first wrote and recorded the song (and that’s a big if), the ways to interpret the song have grown as the song has been covered.

The soundtrack for the 1993 movie, “So I Married an Axe Murderer,” featured two versions of “There She Goes”: the original by The La’s, and a sunny cover by The Boo Radleys. Whereas the original had a touch of melancholy to it, the more polished version by The Boo Radleys was cheery. And damn infectious.

That two versions appeared on the same soundtrack can probably be attributed to Mike Myers, who starred in the movie with Nancy Travis. When The La’s played on David Letterman’s “Late Night” in October 1991, Myers snuck off “Saturday Night Live” rehearsal to watch the band perform. “I think it’s one of the greatest pop tunes ever,” Myers said of “There She Goes.” “Paul Shaffer saw me listening and loving the song, so for many years that’s what he would play whenever I came out on Letterman.”

He’s right.

And that even continued when Letterman switched networks.

The Columbia Kingsmen, an all-male a capella group at Columbia University, included a version of “There She Goes” on the album, “Lunchbox.” The spirited version, down to the persistent “doo doo doo” in the background, sounded like it could have been performed in the ’60s, had the song existed. No word on whether the Columbia Kingsmen have any opinions on whether the song was about heroin or not.

Christian pop band Sixpence None The Richer‘s self-titled third album was released in 1997, though it was 1999 when the album (and the band itself) captured the attention of the American mainstream. It was “Kiss Me” that garnered the spotlight for the band, but that same album included a breezy and pretty version of “There She Goes.” Leigh Nash’s sweet vocals, paired the folky guitar and catchy drums, helped make “There She Goes” a minor hit for the band. It peaked at Number 14 in the UK and Number 32 in the US.

A live version by Robbie Williams of Take That fame highlighted how catchy of a pop song “There She Goes” is. As Williams belted out the song and the clap-happy audience responded in kind, I couldn’t help but think this showcased the same reckless abandon with which one sings in the car or the shower.

Australian radio station triple j has featured several musicians on its series “Like A Version,” where artists are invited to come play one of their own songs as well as a cover song. Over the years, compilations of the covers have been released, and the fifth collection included The Wombats covering “There She Goes.” Like The La’s, The Wombats formed in Liverpool. And like The La’s, The Wombats played the song with a sense of melancholy.

Using the name ortoPilot, Matt Hutchison has been a prolific covers artist, releasing several videos on YouTube and in compilations. The ortoPilot compilation “Covers Album, Vol. 13: 2012 Advent Calendar,” had an acoustic “There She Goes” that stayed faithful to the original. And while the cover might not have reinvented the song, that was fine, because if you’re not familiar with Hutchison or ortoPilot, the video can clue you in the thought and effort that goes into the well-oiled machine Hutchison has created.

Of all these covers, the ones by Sixpence None The Richer and The Boo Radleys might be the most well-known, given the charting of the former and the soundtrack inclusion of the latter. While I appreciate The Boo Radleys’ “There She Goes” for its sunny instrumentation, I find the Sixpence None The Richer version more interesting because of Leigh Nash’s sweet, earnest delivery. When sung by a woman, “There She Goes” could take on a queer vibe, because even though the lyrics weren’t overtly romantic, a sense of longing was implied. That Sixpence None The Richer’s catalog was mainly Christian only adds to the layered nuance of a woman singing a song that could (maybe) be about another woman or heroin.

And then there’s the version by Robbie Williams, who for years was assumed by fans to be gay. In an interview with NME, the singer addressed the rumors that used to surround him. “There was a time where if you put ‘Robbie Williams’ into Google, it said ‘gay,'” he said. When it stopped being: ‘Robbie Williams gay,’ I wondered what had happened.”

Whether or not Williams or Nash were gay has no bearing on their ability to sing the song, and to sing it well. But in the context of all the songs reviewed in the Cover Songs Uncovered series, it’s worth pointing out that in some of the songs reviewed, the covers changed the pronouns. Nash did not. This might seem like no big deal, particularly if the song actually turned out to be about heroin all along. But what makes this noteworthy not just because other artists have changed pronouns when covering songs, but because queer people can hear the song and find it just as accessible.

But hairsplitting and nitpicking aside, the pronouns in the lyrics and gender of the singer have little to do with the overall legacy of “There She Goes.” Nor does the song’s presumed references to heroin. On its own, “There She Goes” is a brilliant pop song that could have come out in any era. It didn’t rely on the technology of its time, and that’s why it will have a hard time ever sounding dated.

And then there’s the obsession with Mavers himself, which in part comes from the hope to hear more songs like “There She Goes.” For his part, Mavers has doesn’t get it. As he said in Macefield’s book, “I’m just a man, la, just a person.”

You can listen to these songs and previously discussed cover songs in a Spotify playlist.
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