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.

Jun 212018
 

In Pick Five, great artists pick five cover songs that matter to them.

jeffrey foucault cover songs

No less than The New Yorker once wrote “Jeffrey Foucault, sings stark, literate songs that are as wide open as the landscape of his native Midwest” (and they know from literate). For going on two decades, the unassuming Wisconsin singer-songwriter has been quietly releasing some of the best folk records of the current century. Though maybe not that quietly; he does have people like Don Henley saying he “clocks modern culture about as good as I’ve ever heard anybody clock it.”

Along the way Foucault has released some beautiful covers himself, including a terrific murder-ballads album with Mark Erelli, a John Prine tribute on his own, and a great take on Bob Dylan’s “Señor” just last year. His new album Blood Brothers, though, is all originals. It comes out tomorrow, but you can hear “Blown,” a beautiful duet with Tift Merritt, now: Continue reading »

Jun 212018
 
love canon enjoy the silence

Bluegrass is a genre big on covers, with any fiddler worth his strings able to whip out old mountain songs, folk traditionals, and anything Bill Monroe or John Hartford ever wrote. On their upcoming album Cover Story, though, Charlottesville bluegrass quintet Love Canon take on more novel source material: pop hits of the 1980s. In fact, they gravitated towards the least acoustic sounds around, pickin’ through electronic dance songs by the likes of Mr. Mister, Peter Gabriel, and the song we’re premiering below: Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence.” And we thought last year’s bluegrass Radiohead cover was inventive! Continue reading »

Jun 202018
 
low cut connie alex chilton

Last year, President Obama’s favorite Philly garage-revivalists Low Cut Connie placed pretty damn high on our Best Covers of 2017 list. The choice cover, a rollicking roar through Prince’s “Controversy,” came out on their album Dirty Pictures, Part 1. Well, Dirty Pictures, Part 2 was just released, and it includes another killer cover, this time of Alex Chilton’s “Hey! Little Child.”

The source material shift to Mr. Big Star from Mr. “Baby I’m a Star” couldn’t be more pronounced, but in Low Cut Connie’s hands the songs find common ground as barn-storming, beer-chugging, piano-smashing rock and roll. A new video features the band drinking and jumping around and acting like animals, which is pretty much what they’re like in concert too (plus more climbing atop pianos). Continue reading »

Jun 182018
 

In Pick Five, great artists pick five cover songs that matter to them.

fantastic negrito cover songs

In the year 2000, the musician known as Fantastic Negrito almost died. A car accident put him in a three-week coma before requiring months of brutal physical therapy. When he finally got out of the hospital, permanent damage to his guitar-playing hand forced him to retire from music. He eventually moved to Oakland and became an urban farmer growing vegetables and, as his new bio artfully puts it, “other, more profitable, green matter.”

A lot has happened since then. He eventually returned to music, and quickly achieved the sort of milestones he never did the first time around. He won the first-ever NPR Tiny Desk Contest in 2015, earned a longtime champion and mentor in Chris Cornell, and, just last year, won his first Grammy award, for Best Contemporary Blues Album. But the accident’s after-effects linger in his mind on new album Please Don’t Be Dead, which features a real photo from his hospital stay as its cover. Watch the music video for single “The Duffler”: Continue reading »

Jun 152018
 
best cover songs 1978

Welcome to the third installment in our Best Cover Songs of Yesteryear countdown, where we act like we were compiling our usual year-end list from a year before we – or the internet – existed. Compared to the first two, this one has significantly less grunge than 1996 and less post-punk than 1987. It’s hard to have post-punk, after all, before you have punk, a new genre starting to hit its peak in 1978. And don’t forget the other big late-’70s sound: disco. Both genres were relatively new, and super divisive among music fans. Lucky for us, both genres were also big on covers.

Disco, in particular, generated some hilariously ill-advised cover songs. We won’t list them all here – this is the Best 1978 covers, not the Most 1978 covers. If you want a taste (and think carefully about whether you really do), this bonkers take on a Yardbirds classic serves as a perfect example of what a good portion of the year’s cover songs looked and sounded like: Continue reading »

Jun 142018
 
devildriver john carter cash

I interviewed John Carter Cash – Johnny’s son – a few years ago (for my book‘s chapter on “Hurt”). He told me how, as a huge metal fan growing up in the 1980s, he dragged his dad with him to Metallica and Iron Maiden concerts. It’s not clear that created a deep and abiding appreciation of heavier sounds in the Man in Black – lord knows it proved hard enough for Rick Rubin to convince him to cover Nine Inch Nails – but maybe this new metal “Ghost Riders in the Sky” cover would convince him.

It comes from California metal band DevilDriver, who take on all sorts of outlaw-country classics on the upcoming album Outlaws ‘Til The End: Vol. 1. And for their cover of Cash’s cover of “Ghost Riders in the Sky” (the song was first recorded by its writer, Stan Jones), they recruited a ringer to bridge the gap: John Carter Cash himself. Continue reading »