On March 29, 1973, Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show made it on the cover of Rolling Stone. The song “The Cover of the Rolling Stone” had been released four months earlier, in November 1972. The buzz created from the song – which had reached #6 on the charts that same month – would lead to this little bar band from New Jersey being featured in the fledgling magazine, itself only five years old at the time.
Technically speaking, though, the band itself still hasn’t been on the cover of the Rolling Stone. The magazine cover only showed a caricature of the band, with the headline “What’s-Their-Names Made The Cover.” The band name was not even mentioned. I guess the joke was on them.
The song was written by noted children’s books author Shel Silverstein, who also penned the Johnny Cash classic “A Boy Named Sue.” Silverstein had a songwriting relationship with Dr. Hook that, while not quite of Elton-Bernie proportions, proved quite impactful in its own right. There have been a few “Cover” covers released into the wild, including Poison’s mostly tepid version where they try way too to be cool, Jackyl’s foot-stomping performance that features Jessie James Dupree in fine chainsaw-wielding form, and R. Stevie Moore’s rendition where he tries to be cool and actually is. Buck Owens also essentially covered a version giving things a Nashville twist by renaming the song and reshaping the lyrics for “On The Cover of the Music City News.” This version may be important in that this may be the only cover version of the song by an artist that has actually been on the cover of the Rolling Stone.
The latest cover version of “The Cover of the Rolling Stone” has just been released by Corb Lund in advance of his new covers record Cover Your Tracks, out in September, Having played the song in bars for years Lund enlisted the help of a long-time friend Hayes Carl for the studio version (should have retitled it “The Cover of Lone Star Music Magazine”. The two of them trading verses on the song that is said to have influenced several scenes in the movie Almost Famous takes things from barroom sing-along to honky-tonk heaven in very short order.
With an eclectic tracklist that also includes “These Boots Are Made For Walkin,” Marty Robbins’ “They’re Hanging Me Tonight,” the Billy Joel rocker “It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me” and “Seven Spanish Angels” this record should be a real winner.