“Hold On” (Donkey Kong Variations)

Oh, my. So, as my regular readers both know, I am a Tom Waits fan. Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan are incredible songwriters; I know personal tastes differ, but if you disagree, you are quite simply wrong. And Mule Variations is a great album, with a taste of all the different facets of a musical life; it has some of my favorite songs ever–which I would elaborate on, but I would go on forever, and that’s not my point.

My point is, somebody (Buddy Peace, is his internet name) also loves that album, and a couple of months ago put out a tribute, “Donkey Kong Variations”, in the 8-bit musical stylings so familiar to video game enthusiasts of a certain age. I am roughly of that age, but was not a gamer, so the Waits/Brennan angle is the hook for me–and Kathleen Brennan herself linked to Buddy Peace’s version of “Hold On”, which is how I found it. “Hold On” was the most successful single (do they still use that term?), so the most likely to be known by those of you who are not necessarily fans… anyway…

I do want to also point you to my favorite of the 8-bit covers (not my favorite on Waits’s album, though)–“What’s He Building In There?”:

Oddly enough, I think that is even weirder than the original.

This stuff deserves a wider audience.


  1. lorn says

    I’m old enough to remember the original 8-bit music, and what preceded it. “Donkey Kong Variations” mesmerizing … and it makes me laugh. Thanks.

  2. estraven says

    Comment submitted:
    My late sister (I lost her going on 4 years ago and still grieve deeply) loved Tom Waits. She suffered from mental illness and once told me that “Hold On” got her through a very bad time . . . until it didn’t any more and she had to be hospitalized. But she loved that song and relied on it through difficult times. I doubt I’ll be listening to the version you mention, just wouldn’t seem right. But then again, I might .

  3. Who Cares says

    Oh this brings back memories of the 64Kb demos. Never been good enough to get into the competitions but I’ve seen some. 1 MB worth of file stashed in a 64Kb executable (for the Amiga 500) including this type of synthesizer music.

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