Today in Viral Video: Josh Weathers' Cover of 'I'll Always Love You' Blows Up
Josh Weathers (a journeyman musician who ordinarily gigs around Fort Worth, Texas) performed 'I'll Always Love You' live at Dallas Texas's Kessler Theater 2 summers ago and a crude video of his take on Whitney Houston's iconic performance of that ballad was uploaded on July 23, 2011.
That's a white bar band singer from the fifth largest city in Texas, alone onstage with a guitar performing for a small crowd, singing a song composed and recorded by Dolly Parton in 1973 (when she split from recording partner Porter Wagoner) and made famous in the early nineties as an R&B inflected power ballad by Whitney Houston.
The video of Josh Weathers' version was made and uploaded 2 years ago. And it didn't cause much of a reaction - until 2013.
As of today - the video has almost half a million views and climbing.
It's a daring piece of live performance. Josh Weathers starts with a dash of self-conscious humility and irony. But once he begins singing, it soon develops into something more than that - a flexing of strong artistic muscles in a way that feels human... approachable... even as the singing becomes more intense and personal. The song has always been a showpiece for testing a singer's vocal limits. And the words are about dedication and the kind of love that can survive even in the face of rejection - so outsiders and unknowns (under-appreciated oddballs like us?) who can master the shifts in dynamics and who can reach the high notes can seem heroic.
But all that was apparent two years ago. The performance on this video hasn't changed.
Part of the credit probably belongs to Reddit. On August 12th, 2013 the video occupied the #12 slot on Reddit's front page (after being first submitted to Reddit in early 2013).
Apparently - once a core audience discovered and began to share it - the video blew up.
Suddenly, in ways that didn't exist just a few years ago, the Josh Weathers video was receiving YouTube views and the attention of big media types (bookers from national TV shows) that most artists only dream about.
Here's a link to a centraltrack.com interview with Josh Weathers talking about the incredible way social spread has changed his life.