Jan 262016
 

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

LeadBellyNY

“In The Pines,” AKA “Where Did You Sleep Last Night,” AKA “Black Girl,” is a traditional Appalachian folk song, nearly a century and a half old, that encompasses elements of searing heartbreak, perceived betrayal, death (by decapitation in many cases), and murder. Not to mention the fact the the song title is named after a location where “the sun don’t ever shine” and “we shiver when the cold wind blows.”

Not exactly “Kumbaya,” right? Which is fortunate, because if this song had been about the warm and fuzzies, it never would have lasted to become the haunting classic it remains today.

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Jan 152016
 

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

bonniejohn

“Angel from Montgomery” is one of those songs that’s probably best known from a cover—Bonnie Raitt’s iconic 1974 version (and the many live recordings that have followed). In fact, this article was inspired by hearing Joan Osborne say that for years she was basically intimidated by the Raitt cover from ever performing it herself—until she heard Susan Tedeschi sing it, decided Raitt didn’t own the song, and started including it in her set.
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Jan 122016
 

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

UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01:  Photo of Sam Cooke  (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

“Summertime,” one of the most covered songs in music history (just ask The Summertime Connection), has always inspired masterful performances. The song weaves simple yet potent lyrics with a slow, steady harmonic progression, paving the way for poised renditions, yet its strengths allow the artists to freely improvise this musical masterpiece to make it distinctly their own. Covers range from chilling and ominous to sultry and even joyous, always maintaining the song’s soulful cool. Most importantly, “Summertime”‘s depth provides a canvas for inspired artists to create breathtakingly beautiful art.
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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 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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Oct 232015
 

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

w24279_Full

 
I was a big fan of Roxy Music, in both their spiky earlier incarnation and their smoother second phase, then lost a little faith as Bryan Ferry seemed to endlessly noodle around and around the same somewhat bland and anodyne motifs, solo recordings palling – apart from, I have to say, and appropriately on this site, his all-Bob cover album Dylanesque, which carried a bit more verve and spark than his own stuff. However, back and currently on the road, Ferry seems to have hit upon a bit of a stride – largely, in truth, by an extensive revisiting of his Roxy catalog, rarely playing material from this century. Be that as it may, “More Than This,” from 1982’s Avalon, and actually their last UK top ten hit (it barely bothered the US charts, peaking at 102), has always struck me as a bit of a throwaway, with the by-then Ferry formula padded out in what was becoming a somewhat repetitive set of chord progressions, later repeated ad nauseum in his subsequent solo career. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that it’s bad, it’s just a bit meh. But, inexplicably, it has become a bit of a standard for covering, perhaps on account of one of the versions commented upon below.
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Oct 092015
 

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

beatles umbrellas

“Rain,” the B-side to “Paperback Writer,” showcases all four Beatles at the peak of their creative powers; it promised that the album soon to follow in its wake would be a quantum leap from what was being done in rock ‘n’ roll, a promise kept with the release of Revolver. To this day Beatle fans consider it one of their great accomplishments. The frustrating thing is that, being a B-side only collected on hodgepodges like Hey Jude and Past Masters V.2, its place in the rock ‘n’ roll universe will never be as prominent as it is in the Beatles’ universe. On the other hand, that means that, nearly half a century after its recording, young music fans are still discovering it on a daily basis.
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