Curtis Zimmermann

Curtis Zimmermann works as an advertising sales executive for an academic publisher in Philadelphia. He’s been a music critic, news reporter, financial fraud investigator and spent many years in corporate sales, all the while maintaining a healthy obsession with music history. He first became intrigued with genre-bending covers in college when he stumbled across a used copy of Ray Charles’ box set “The Complete Country & Western Recordings 1959 - 1986.”

Feb 132018
 
nana mouskouri amy winehouse

Nana Mouskouri is one of the best-selling female vocalists of all time. Even though she never became a household name in the U.S., estimates put her total album sales well above 200 million (some say as high as 300 million). By one count, she has recorded 1,550 songs in ten different languages.

With such impressive numbers, people ought to be lining up to record tributes to her. Instead, the 83-year-old decided to release a tribute album of her own, paying homage to actors, bands, and singers whose work has inspired her over the years. The album, Forever Young, includes covers of songs by Bob Dylan (obviously), the Beatles, Elvis, Bryan Adams, and Leonard Cohen, to name a few. But perhaps the most unusual choice is her cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Love is a Losing Game.” Continue reading »

Feb 082018
 
john oates stack o lee

The subtitle for John Oates’ new solo album Arkansas should have been: No Synthesizer, No Hall – No Problem. The album of acoustic-driven Americana and folk rock is more like a Steve Earle record than anything put out by the dynamic duo of Hall & Oates in the 1980s. And that’s just fine. Oates sounds like he’s having a blast on the collection of originals and folk standards. One of the more intriguing cuts is his cover of “Stack O Lee” commonly known as “Stagger Lee.”

The “Stagger Lee” myth runs deep through the heart of American popular music. The folk tune, sometimes called “Staggolee” or “Stack-a-Lee,” has been around in one form or another since the 1890s. The main thrust of the lyrics is a fight in which “Stagger” Lee Shelton killed Billy Lyons in a bar in St. Louis. By one count, more than 400 different renditions of the song have been recorded by blues singers, folkies, pop singers, punk bands and jam bands alike. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame singer Lloyd Price scored a number one hit in early 1959 with his take on the song. Continue reading »

Jan 242018
 
joey badass prince cover

Given the rampant overproduction that plagues most contemporary rap, it’s refreshing to see an artist step outside the safety confines of drum tracks and dampeners and play with an actual band. During a recent trip Down Under, Jo-Vaughn Virginie Scott (aka Joey Bada$$) did just that. He performed a pair of tracks on Australian radio station Triple J’s covers show Like A Version. With a full band of Australian musicians, he performed his hit song “Temptation” as well as a reinterpretation of Prince’s 1984 classic “When Doves Cry” rechristened “When Thugs Cry.”

Continue reading »

Jan 222018
 
japanese breakfast california dreaming

In 2016, indie singer Michelle Zauner, who performs under the moniker Japanese Breakfast, opened for fellow Japanese-American singer-songwriter Mitski. “Being half-Asian and going on the Mitski tour, that was like, a big deal,” Zauner told Rolling Stone. She said fans would come up and thank them. “They feel like they see part of themselves in us in a way that they haven’t been able to before.”

Mitski should be no stranger to readers of Cover Me; her work has landed on our Top 50 lists in both 2015 and 2017. Japanese Breakfast recently took a page from Mitski’s playbook and expanded her electro-pop repertoire by releasing a cover of “California Dreamin’” on the SiriusXMU indie-rock radio channel. Continue reading »

Jan 162018
 
joan baez tom waits cover

This week, Joan Baez revealed she will be retiring from the road at the end of 2018 . The announcement was accompanied, as these things often are, by an exhaustive list of tour dates and a new single. The song, a cover of Tom Waits’ “Whistle Down the Wind,” will be the title track for her upcoming studio album.

Baez has always been adept at interpreting other people’s music, covering tunes by the likes of The Band, the Beatles and practically making a career of singing Bob Dylan songs (and giving him a career too). Even today, four out of five of her top tracks on Spotify are covers; the great “Diamonds and Rust” is the exception.

Continue reading »

Jan 082018
 
gregg allman song for adam

When Gregg Allman went into the studio to record his final album Southern Blood it was clear to all those around him that he was saying goodbye. The record, released posthumously last September, contains a number of tracks that tell the story of a man looking back on his life. In 2017, we wrote about his version of the Grateful Dead’s “Black Muddy River” and how it provided a feeling of joyful release. By contrast, the album’s closing tune, a cover of Jackson Browne’s “Song for Adam,” relates a much bleaker story. Continue reading »