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Jun 192017
 
efya cover

Though Dolly Parton originally wrote and recorded “I Will Always Love You” as a country song, Whitney Houston’s R&B-blast cover has become the gold standard (there’s a chapter about it in my new book about covers). It’s become a staple of American Idol contestants and overly ambitious karaoke singers. The bigger, the belt-ier, the better. No one can top Whitney, but everyone seems to try.

In a refreshing change, Efya takes the song in an entirely different direction. A star in her native Ghana, she actually also got her start in a televised talent show, but you wouldn’t know it from the subtlety and taste she shows here. Accompanied by only a keyboard and African “talking drum,” she strips the song way back in a new live recording for Okayafrica. By tweaking the melody and rhythm, she transform the song into something dark and mournful. When she finally does open up at the end, the vocal power feels totally earned. Continue reading »

Mar 052012
 

It’s very, very likely that no one will ever sing “I Will Always Love You” as well as the late Whitney Houston did, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not worth a try. Good thing hard rocker Chris Cornell decided to take a chance on the track because, if he hadn’t, the world would have never been able to witness such an unexpected surprise of a cover. Continue reading »

Feb 152012
 

There are few love songs as universally known as Whitney Houston‘s version of “I Will Always Love You.” The song usually attracts those with a heavy heart due to lost love, and with the recent loss of a legend, it hangs even heavier this year. Girls frontman Christopher Owens paid tribute to the late great by performing a solo version of the iconic song. Continue reading »

May 062011
 

Even though nobody will ever be able to top Whitney Houston’s breathtaking 1992 version of Dolly Parton’s classic “I Will Always Love You”, which deserves recognition as one of the best covers of all time, minimalist Brooklyn duo Howth do a commendable job with their own interpretation of the song. Their organ drone, xylophone tinkering and pair of acoustic guitars weave a delicate and emotional frame for the painfully sad lyrics, especially the ones everybody doesn’t immediately recognize. Continue reading »

Oct 032017
 
cover me playlist

Today is the day! At long last, Cover Me: The Stories Behind the Greatest Cover Songs of All Time is in stores and online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, Powell’s, and many other places (including, hopefully, your local independent bookstore!).

A lot has happened since I first announced the book back in May. The New Yorker published an excerpt about Devo’s meeting with Mick Jagger. I was interviewed on SiriusXM about the Hendrix, Cash, Aretha, Pet Shop Boys, Elvis, and Creedence Clearwater Revival chapters. And most importantly for you reading this, I put together an exclusive bonus mix that blog fans can get when they buy the book (it says “pre-order,” but we’ll say “week-of-release order” counts too).

And I wanted to share one more thing, another blog exclusive: An audio companion to the book. Continue reading »

Aug 282017
 
cover me book

Cover Me: The Stories Behind the Greatest Songs Of All Time comes out October 3. It dives deep into twenty iconic covers, from Elvis’s “Hound Dog” through Adele’s “Make You Feel My Love.” I interviewed artists like David Byrne and Roger Daltrey to get the untold stories behind their greatest covers. You can read all about it here.

Now we’ve got a special bonus for anyone who preorders: a free digital album of other covers of those same songs.

What’s the greatest “Take Me to the River” that’s not by Al Green or the Talking Heads? My favorite “Hurt” untouched by either of those men in black? An “I Will Always Love You” that sounds like the artist has never heard either Dolly Parton or Whitney Houston’s versions? This mix answers all those questions. Continue reading »