Patrick Robbins

Patrick Robbins lives in Maine, where he moves through life with the secure knowledge that, as Penn Jillette said, "In all of art, it's the singer, not the song," On Wednesdays he goes shopping, and has buttered scones for tea. He is the author of the novel To Make Others Happy.

Jan 292016
 

In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.

Willie-Dixon

Willie Dixon was a talented stand-up bass player, producer, and occasional vocalist for Chess Records, but his greatest gift lay in his pen. One cursory glance at his song titles – “Back Door Man,” “Little Red Rooster,” “I Ain’t Superstitious,” and “You Can’t Judge a Book By the Cover,” to name just a “Spoonful” – reveals what an impact he had not only on Chicago blues, but rock ‘n’ roll as well. No self-respecting sixties band with a blues foundation would dream of taking the stage without a working knowledge of Dixon’s songs, and he wrote more than 500 of them – songs that sounded immortal from the moment they were first created.
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1947-2016

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Jan 112016
 
bowie gif

More to follow in the near future, but for now, Cover Me would like to take a moment to step away from covers and celebrate a true original instead.

Thank you for your work, David. Thank you for the songs you wrote and allowed others to share, and thank you for the songs you shared that we never would have known were written.

Jan 082016
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

acdc-back-in-black

AC/DC was writing their first album after Bon Scott’s passing, and they wanted to remember him – not by mourning his death, but by celebrating his life. It was a tricky line to walk, but they made it look easy with “Back in Black,” the title cut from their landmark album. They may have dressed in dark clothes, but they wouldn’t bow their heads – not when there were mammoth riffs to rip through, or piledriving lyrics for new vocalist Brian Johnson to stomp about howling. The band paid their respects and got back to business in one fell swoop, creating a hard-rock anthem (or two) in the process.

The story goes that a journalist once griped about how AC/DC had made ten albums and they all sounded the same, and that Angus Young responded, “He’s a liar. We’ve made eleven albums and they all sound the same.” Here are five covers of “Back in Black”; rest assured that none of them sound the same.

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Dec 042015
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

linusandlucy

This week saw the 50th anniversary airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas, the animated special that’s become a part of the national fabric. We all know what a Charlie Brown Christmas tree looks like; we all know how the kids dance, and we all know “Linus and Lucy,” the jazz composition by Vince Guaraldi. Originally written for a documentary on Charles Schulz, the jazz piano instrumental now serves as the unofficial Peanuts theme song, as well as being the centerpiece on the special’s soundtrack (one of the top ten bestselling holiday albums).
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Nov 282015
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

randynewman

The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 saw New Orleans receiving 15 inches of rain in 18 hours, with parts of it under four feet of water. Forty-seven years later, Randy Newman released “Louisiana 1927,” a lament about the devastation the disaster caused and the government’s callous response. Thirty-one years after that, Hurricane Katrina struck, and the song took on a new life. It takes a remarkable writer to compose a song about the long-ago past that can be relevant in the far-ahead future, and that’s just what Randy Newman is.

As he celebrates his 72nd birthday today, Newman can look back on a career of critically praised albums, memorable film scores, a couple of fluke hits, twenty Oscar nominations and two wins. He’s the absolute master of the unreliable narrator, which allows him to explore the uncomfortable side of humanity with dark humor. Journalist Paul Zollo writes, “There is no other songwriter who has shown us bigotry, ignorance, and human weakness as convincingly as Randy Newman.” People who only know him as the guy who writes for Pixar movies and gets mocked by Family Guy need to take a closer look; fortunately, many cover artists have been all too happy to take that closer look for us.
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Nov 202015
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

bob ramona

Bob Dylan scholars have determined that “To Ramona” is a song about Joan Baez; Dylan’s warning her that the folk protest movement will draw her in deep, but he recognizes that she doesn’t necessarily have a problem with that, and much as he loves and wants her, he has to let her think for herself, both for her sake and for his. That’s a pretty specific interpretation, yet the song resounds in the hearts of thousands, millions, as a love song they can relate to their own lives, in their own ways. It speaks to Dylan’s genius that he can draw the universal from the singular instead of the other way around.
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Nov 132015
 

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

lz3

When Led Zeppelin III was released 45 years ago, it seemed destined to disappoint both the fans who wanted “Whole Lotta More Love” and the critics who weren’t all that keen on the band to begin with. Oh, sure, “Immigrant Song” was an instant hard-rock classic, and “Since I’ve Been Loving You” was blues as slow and heavy as you could hope for, but this album’s heart and soul lay with its acoustic numbers on what was then called Side Two. This wouldn’t do – hadn’t these guys already set up camp in the heavy metal slums? How dare they pretend to be other than what they were?

Of course, time has proven Zeppelin the wiser. III proved them capable of expanding their palette, showing more sides and more shades than the wannabes who were only capable of following one set of Zep’s footprints. The critics have come around, taking note of the bucolic dimension Jimmy Page and Robert Plant brought to their songwriting after a recharging stay in a quiet cottage in Wales named Bron-Yr-Aur. And the fans? Well, Led Zeppelin was never going to lose their fans.
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Nov 042015
 
Bond Week

Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.

double o heaven

With James Bond Part XXIV being released this week, the time seemed right to take a look at some Bond-related covers. Tune in tomorrow for some of the best ever made; for today, we’re whetting your appetite with a look at an all-Bond cover album that’s not like all the others.
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