Ray Padgett

Ray Padgett founded the blog Cover Me in 2007 and has run it ever since, growing it into the largest blog devoted to cover songs on the web. His music writing has appeared in the New Yorker, SPIN, MTV, Vice, Mojo, and more and he’s been interviewed as an expert on cover songs by NPR, the Wall Street Journal, and SiriusXM. He lives in New York City and also works as a senior music publicist for Shore Fire Media. His book Cover Me: The Stories Behind the Greatest Cover Songs of All Time is out now. Buy it at Amazon. Email him at rfpadgett @ gmail.

Jan 122019
 

The following is a chapter from my book ‘Cover Me: The Stories Behind the Greatest Cover Songs of All Time’ that got left on the cutting room floor due to space. For 19 more stories like it, from Hendrix’s “Watchtower” to Devo’s “Satisfaction,” buy the book Variety called “a music snob’s dream come true” at Amazon, IndieBound, Barnes and Noble, or anywhere else.

led zeppelin dazed and confused

It’s like if your baby is kidnapped at two-years-old and raised by another woman. All these years later, it’s her kid.
— Jake Holmes

Led Zeppelin’s self-titled debut album came out 50 years ago today. But if you’ve purchased it more recently, you might have seen the following writing credit under the song “Dazed and Confused”: “By Jimmy Page; Inspired by Jake Holmes.”

Those seven words may seem pretty innocuous on the page, but that phrase is the result of decades of controversy and litigation. Those words reveal questions of what counts as a cover song, how an artist needs to credit a songwriter from whom they draw material, and where the line lies between homage and theft.
Continue reading »

Jan 082019
 
j mascis tom petty

Like many people, I dove deep into Tom Petty’s discography after he passed. I knew the hits, of course, and owned a random smattering of albums (I still stan Highway Companion), but had never really dug into the back catalog. I discovered enough underexposed gems to make a hell of a playlist of Petty deep cuts. Despite his bestselling album being, by far, Greatest Hits, Petty could operate quite impressively as an album artist.

One of my favorite discoveries was “A Woman In Love (Not Me).” While not quite a deep cut – it was the second single off 1981’s Hard Promises, and performed passably on the charts – it certainly falls well outside of the dozen or so tracks everyone knows. Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis is out to change that with his fiery new cover. At a recent KEXP session, he performed it solo on guitar. Continue reading »

Jan 042019
 

“Covering the Hits” looks at covers of a randomly-selected #1 hit from the past sixty years.

love is blue covers

For this feature, we use random.org to pick a random number that corresponds to one of (currently) 1,082 number-one hits. I rolled #199, and grew quite excited as I began scrolling through the list. #199 falls in 1968, smack in the Beatles heyday, just following recent chart-toppers like “Penny Lane” and “All You Need Is Love.” Other iconic standards of the era from “Respect” to “Light My Fire” lie right around #199 – and #200 is “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” A golden era for the Hot 100’s pole position.

Well, not entirely. As you might guess from the mustacheoed photo above, #199 bucks the trend a bit. Rather than getting a cutting-edge classic pushing rock and pop music forward, I landed on the easy-listening instrumental “Love Is Blue,” as performed by French conductor Paul Mauriat. It inexplicably topped the carts for five weeks – that’s a week longer than “Dock of the Bay” would! It does make Mauriat the only French lead artist to ever top the Hot 100, which I suppose is something. Continue reading »

Jan 032019
 
matt pond chris hansen covers

When last we heard from Matt Pond PA, he was turning The Cars’ “Drive” into a lush folk-pop ballad. Now Pond and bandmate Chris Hansen are back with new covers applying a similar soft sheen to two very different artists: Peter Gabriel and Led Zeppelin.

They covered Gabriel’s “Mercy Street” to close out the year and to celebrate the final episode of a radio show they do in upstate New York. Here’s what Pond wrote about it: Continue reading »

Dec 122018
 
phoebe bridgers the cure

Our 50 Best Cover Songs of 2018 post goes up Monday and, as always, the cuts to get it down to size were brutal. I know it’s going to rough going when the painful cuts begin when the list is still pushing 100. The final and toughest cut of all – the 51st Best Cover of 2018, as it were – came last: singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers’ mesmerizing take on Tom Petty’s “It’ll All Work Out.” It still hurts that that one didn’t make it, so I’ll give it a little extra shine here (go listen to it here!).

Bridgers’ cover of The Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love” might have been a year-end contender too had it come out a month ago. Just as she did with the Petty deep cut, she strips all the production away, leaving only a spare keyboard and layers of ethereal harmonies. “Friday I’m in Love” gets covered far less than comparable Cure hits, sometimes derided as a less artful pop-radio play (it didn’t even rank in Rolling Stone’s fan-voted Best Cure Songs list). Bridgers redeems the song on her stunning cover, recorded for a new Spotify Single, and will hopefully inspire more closet “Friday I’m in Love” fans to cover the song. Continue reading »

Dec 052018
 
cat power jackie deshannon

We’ve got a big feature on Cat Power due to land this month, and – spoiler alert – she may just make an appearance on our year-end list (she did last year). But the prolific cover artist is hard to keep up with. Hot on the heels of her Rihanna cover, she’s tackled a very different sort of chanteuse: Jackie DeShannon. Cat Power picks a song by a man we’ve recently written about extensively, Burt Bacharach’s standard “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” penned with Hal David. Continue reading »