Sep 252015

1989Last year, when Ryan Adams released “Gimme Something Good,” the first single from his self-titled album, my first thought was this: That chorus sounds a LOT like “Mine” by Taylor Swift.

Even though they do sound similar, the thought of Ryan Adams- a guy known for intense genre-hopping, releasing albums like a song factory, and being an all around cool guy – being a Taylor Swift fan seemed unlikely.

Apparently, he’s a fan. Enough of a fan to cover her newest record, 1989, in its entirety.
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Sep 182015

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

When all the bien-pensant trendsetters diss the Eagles (and they do, they do), “Boys of Summer,” written post-Eagles 1.0 and pre-hell freezing over by Don Henley, their best singer and their best writer, is the song that leads my opening statement for the defense. I remember the first time I heard it; I’d long before grown weary of the old band, but this song astonished and delighted. The combination of sound and lyric served to kick me into a mythical time remembered, irrespective of impossibility, brown skins shining in what little sun made it into my drab surroundings, lifting me into celebration, looking back, yes, always looking back. (I recall actual Deadheads kicking up over the perceived lyrical put-down, but to me, hell, it was a reminder and a kick-start.)

It’s a difficult song to do well, as the original hits all the bases available. Second Hand Songs tells me at least twenty-three have tried, with YouTube adding several more risible attempts to the list. One was even a successful hit in Eurodisco land, as some may remember. Wanna hear that one again? Tough, it ain’t here tonight. But here are three others, in ascending order of quality.
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Sep 112015

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!


Ever since September 11 joined November 22 and December 7 as being among the darkest dates in American history, it’s been difficult to associate anything celebratory with it. But if we can’t find it in ourselves to wish acoustic virtuoso Leo Kottke a happy 70th birthday, then the terrorists win.
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Sep 042015

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


These days the Magnetic Fields, Stephin Merritt’s means of distribution for some of the cleverest old-school songwriting around, is arguably best known for the 69 Love Songs box set (if you don’t yet have it, there are half a dozen songs on it you’ll fall in love with), but they’ve come up with winners right from the start. “100,000 Fireflies” was their first single on their first album, Distant Plastic Trees, back when Merritt was letting Susan Anway handle all the vocals and he handled all the instruments. Anway sings of shrieking and suicide, over a simple backing just this side of rinky-dink, but what comes across is a devastating lilt of loneliness, made all the more painful by its catchiness.
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Sep 022015

Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.

Here at Cover Me Q&A, we’ll be taking questions about cover songs and giving as many different answers as we can. This will give us a chance to hold forth on covers we might not otherwise get to talk about, to give Cover Me readers a chance to learn more about individual staffers’ tastes and writing styles, and to provide an opportunity for some back-and-forth, as we’ll be taking requests (learn how to do so at feature’s end).

Today’s question, from Cover Me staffer Jordan Becker: What’s a cover that made a significant, annoying, and/or unforgivable change to the original lyrics?
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Aug 282015

YouTube is filled with amateur cover artists. Most stink. On The ‘Tube extracts the exceptions.


Ethan Gold’s got smarts – he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard. Ethan Gold’s got genes – his father Herbert is a novelist, and his twin brother Ari is a student-Oscar-winning director who plays ukulele in their band, the Gold Brothers. Ethan Gold’s got serious music credentials – aside from scoring his brother’s films, he’s released 2011’s Songs from a Toxic Apartment (Gold’s residence had enough mold and asbestos that when the Department of Public Health condemned it, he needed a gas mask to get his possessions), which won high praise from Pitchfork and others, and his new album Beings features fan favorite “Our Love is Beautiful.”

And Ethan Gold’s got a bedroom closet, where he sometimes goes to record some amazing covers.
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Aug 212015

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


One of the perks of writing for Cover Me is the degree to which it gives you the chance to make discoveries. For instance, I was searching for some good Clash covers (more on why in a minute) and it led to find the 2006 album Stereo Also Playable Mono by MakroSoft. After listening to a few tracks, I got the impression that John Barry, Lalo Schifrin, and Ennio Morricone had gotten together, in a laboratory sponsored by Kraftwerk, and created film scores based on some of the immortal songs of the previous half century.
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Aug 142015

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


The Apollo space program was still in progress in 1972; Apollo 16 launched on April 16th of that year. Two days earlier, Elton John released “Rocket Man,” a look at a world where the occupation of astronaut came not with built-in heroism, but with the drudgery of any job, where going back to the old grind held more heavy sighs than shouts of triumph. That may have been the message, but it was easy to miss behind the ascending slide guitar and the soaring sing-along chorus, as top ten charts worldwide went on to prove.

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