All right, down to business. First contender:
Sting - original track
There's something wistful here, wouldn't you agree? A tender sort of yearning for what's gone...While Sting doesn't sing so much as sing-speak (well, he doesn't!), there's still something ambient to those vocals, and I love the pipes! And of course, those brilliant lyrics create some lush, lovely images. Can't you just see those barley fields?
Eva Cassidy cover
It's not quite yearning and wistful here. Eva's rendition has a bit more of a mournful quality, if you ask me. You can just imagine tears in her eyes on the high notes. I still haven't figured out exactly what all the instruments are, but they add to the blue atmosphere (I almost said bluesy, but that's not quite right, is it?). I do miss this verse, though: See the west wind move like a lover so/Upon the fields of barley/Feel her body rise when you kiss her mouth/Among the fields of gold. Ah well, it's her version, so I guess she's allowed some license.
Celtic Woman cover
This one combines the best of Sting and Eva, in my opinion. They brought back the pipes! There's still the lushness of the original with the high notes of the cover! But that verse is still missing! Can't have everything, can we? I just love Lisa Kelly's voice; so pure and so expressive. And those lovely backup vocals add a new dimension to the song. If Sting is wistful and Eva is mournful, I think this one has more of a spiritual note to it.
Your turn. You decide.