In Pick Five, great artists pick five cover songs that matter to them.
Toronto folk-rock mainstays Great Lake Swimmers are staying busy for the band’s 15th anniversary. In April, they released a six-song EP, and, rather than taking a breath, almost immediately announced a full-length album The Waves, The Wake, out next month. They’ll then embark on a North American tour this fall so extensive that there are multiple stops in Saskatchewan.
Check out the new single from The Waves, The Wake:
Before things get too nutty for the band, founding singer and songwriter Tony Dekker took a few minutes to tell us about his favorite cover songs. His tastes span a wide genre and time range, from a 1961 Fats Domino single to a tribute album that came out just a few months ago. Dig in below (then go read our feature on the band’s own covers from 2012).
Seu Jorge – Life On Mars (David Bowie cover)
Tony says: “As a huge fan of Wes Anderson, my introduction to the music of Seu Jorge was though the film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. But seeing him perform the songs of David Bowie on his Life Aquatic tour brought them to whole other level for me. Like the recording, things are scaled back to just an acoustic guitar and vocals, and the songs are beautiful and engaging even when broken down to their most basic parts. And Bowie’s catalogue is wonderfully reimagined in Jorge’s native Brazilian Portuguese tongue, which emphasizes the strength of the incredible melodies.”
Elise LeGrow – You Never Can Tell (Chuck Berry cover)
Tony says: “This song knocks me out. It’s a perfect study of how far you can take a song from its original state and reinterpret it in a completely different and beautiful way. Elise LeGrow’s voice soars and soothes and puts a wistful lens on the Chuck Berry classic.”
Yo La Tengo – Friday I’m In Love (The Cure cover)
Tony says: “I love Yo La Tengo’s covers. This album, which also includes covers of their own songs, is so sweet and spare, laid back and beautiful sounding. Their cover of The Cure is joyful and highly danceable.”
Fats Domino – Jambalaya (Hank Williams cover)
Tony says: “This song has melodic roots in an old french Cajun song, “Grand Texas”, and a possible writing credit shared with Moon Mullican, but here Fats Domino takes the Hank Williams song to New Orleans. Recorded in 1961 as a single for Imperial, it has that classic Fats Domino sound and is simply infectious. One legend covering another!”
Neil Young – Four Strong Winds (Ian & Sylvia cover)
Tony says: “Neil Young nods to his Canadian roots on 1978’s Comes A Time, with this cover of Canada’s legendary folk duo Ian and Sylvia Tyson. As Canadian musicians especially, both of these artists are hugely influential in locating us within the spectral landscape of Canadian folk music. Neil’s version of this song, along with the rest of this tremendous album, is one of our favorites.”