There’s not a whole lot of information out there about the artist who goes by Missio. A “Who Is Missio” manifesto on his website does little to answer that question, revealing only that he lives in a 1974 airstream trailer, has an unpleasant history in the music business, and recorded 52 songs already for this new project. What little else I could glean is that his real name is Matthew Brue, he lives in Austin, and he says he aims for “songwriting inspired by minimalistic purism.”
In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!
The sun must have been approximately eight inches from my forehead as I wound my way through a crush of warm bodies – all of them panting and glistening in the fierce Texas heat. Perspiration beaded and trickled down the damp necks of an expectant crowd; condensation beaded and trickled down their cans of Lagunitas.
With the first loud and clear ring of an electric guitar, a roar arose from the crowd, and Paolo Nutini strutted onto stage at Austin City Limits – shirt unbuttoned like a golden god of 70s rock, tight pants that might have been painted onto his lithe frame, and a tousled mane that exemplified the definition of “sex hair.”
And then, the man proceeded to take us to church.
Will Oldham, whose part-time stage name is Bonnie “Prince” Billy, is full of surprises. He became Indie-famous as a soft, introspective folk singer; he’s been covered by and sang with Johnny Cash; he can surprise you with loud rockers; and he even had his video “cover” of Kanye West’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” with Zach Galifianakis featured on West’s website. Frankly, it can be surprising to hear him return to his roots with a heartfelt, folksy guitar number, but he recently put together a three-song set for Fogged Clarity that did just that.
For his fall tour last year, Bob Dylan encored with “Stay With Me,” a song written by Jerome Moss and Carolyn Leigh that Frank Sinatra sang in 1964. Now NPR Music has the studio recording, which is on Dylan’s Sinatra covers album Shadows In the Night, out next month.
“Avalanche” was the first Leonard Cohen song Nick Cave ever heard, as the lead-off track to Cohen’s third album Songs of Love and Hate. “I discovered Leonard Cohen with Songs of Love and Hate,” Cave said in a 1994 interview on French radio. “I listened to this record for hours in a friend’s house. I was very young and I believe this was the first record that really had an effect on me. In the past, I only listened to my brother’s records. I liked what he liked, followed him like a sheep. Leonard Cohen was the first one I discovered by myself. He is the symbol of my musical independence. I remember these other guys that came to my friend’s house that thought Songs of Love and Hate was too depressing. I’ve realized that this ‘depression’ theory was ridiculous. The sadness of Cohen was inspiring, it gave me a lot of energy. I always remember all this when someone says that my records are morbid or depressing.”
They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!
This shouldn’t be as difficult as it turned out to be. A cover song birthday tribute to someone as talented as Jill Sobule, someone who has one of those songs that everybody seems to know, one that, in the benighted era of 1995, was considered a milestone in the mainstreaming of same-sex relationships (predating the famous Ellen kiss by a couple of years), should be a piece of (birthday) cake. Someone like that, with nearly a dozen studio releases and multiple soundtracks and compilation album appearances, should be pretty widely covered, making our job easier. Because that’s what we do here to commemorate artists’ birthdays — we write about cover versions of their songs. And yet, covers of Jill Sobule songs are surprisingly difficult to come by. I thought about asking for a dispensation from the Cover Me Powers That Be to write instead about Sobule’s covers of others, which are plentiful and interesting. But my pride refused to let me cave in, so after some hard work mining the Internet and wading through way too many YouTube videos of (mostly) young women sitting in their bedrooms strumming ukuleles or acoustic guitars into webcams (and an unfortunate number of covers of Katy Perry’s inferior copycat girl kissing song), I was fortunate to discover a few worthy covers for this piece.