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

“Eleanor Rigby,” the second track on the Beatles’ Revolver album, may be the most atypical Beatles single. No Beatle played a note on it; instead, they were backed by a small string ensemble. Released as a single, it was the flip side of “Yellow Submarine,” and could not have been more diametrically opposed to that children’s song. It was a song not of love, but of loneliness and death, one that ran counter to their Fab-Four-moptop image. To quote Alan W. Pollack, a musicologist who gave close readings of all the Beatles’ songs, “As one of the most ‘serious’ pieces of the entire Beatles’ canon, this song straight-facedly vaporized several commonly supposed limitations of what the two-minute AM-radio pop/rock musical genre might be capable of including within its purview and power of expression. Pigeon-hole terms, such as Crossover, Fusion, or Hybrid, somehow don’t seem to do it justice.”
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Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

After listening to the rock & roll on side one of Bob Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home for the first time, the folkie purists of 1965 who dared to flip the record over must have done so with no small measure of dread. To their relief, side two was made up of basically acoustic songs, and led off with “Mr. Tambourine Man,” a song that may not have had a single whiff of Protest to it, but whose light surreal flow felt as smooth and magical as a steady creek and defied its listeners to not feel uplifted. It was as if the Pied Piper had switched to percussion, only gaining in followers for many jingle jangle mornings to come.
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Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

B. Mitchel Reed, one of the most influential DJs in LA, had just played the first single off the new Fleetwood Mac album for the very first time. “I don’t know about that one,” he said dismissively to his millions of listeners. Within minutes he got a call from Lindsey Buckingham, the song’s author, demanding to know what the problem was. “I can’t find the beat,” he said. Suffice it to say that other listeners had a lot less of a problem with “Go Your Own Way” than Reed did.
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Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Interpreting song lyrics can be a dicey endeavor. Many songwriters seem to aspire to something poetic, obscure or obtuse. While it may not be hard to deduce the meaning of lyrics like, say, “I wanna rock and roll all nite, and party every day,” so many songs defy easy understanding, either because the lyrics are vague, or hard to hear, or even utter gibberish. R.E.M.’s early songs were filled with random words that made little obvious sense, and yet along with the music, they somehow created a mood. In 2008, Michael Stipe participated in a Q&A with fans, and he said about his early songs:

those songs were mostly written to be sung live. The pa systems were so crap that no one could ever really hear the singer anyway, including the singer. We just never intended to make records, and then suddenly we were making records and the songs were in my head like that, so we just blurred the vocal and turned it way down. The songs that do have words don’t really make any or much sense, it was about creating a feeling and emotion in the room in the moment. As it turns out the records turned out pretty great too, just inscrutable. I had to learn pretty fast how to write a good or great lyric after that. Please don’t analyze them, there’s nothing but feeling there. Sing along and make it up, that’s what I still do.
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Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

George Harrison was still struggling to get his voice heard when the Beatles recorded “It’s All Too Much.” They did so during the week that Sgt. Pepper was released (an album with only one of George’s songs); originally planned to appear on Magical Mystery Tour, it was delayed for the Yellow Submarine soundtrack, which came out more than half a year after the movie premiered. For a song that seemed determined to be an afterthought, “It’s All Too Much” has gone on to become best known as being perhaps the most underrated Beatles song. East meets West while tripping on acid, and hand in hand they sail into the mystic, taking the time to quote a line from the Merseys song “Sorrow” (which would have to wait for an immortalizing full-length cover until David Bowie came along).
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Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Before it was a depressing award-winning movie… before it was the name of a one-hit-wonder band… “Boys Don’t Cry” was the title of the Cure’s angstastic second single. The story of a boy with an aching heart who refuses to appear vulnerable under any circumstances has a dry spareness to it, but the guitar has as catchy a hook as you’ll find on the band’s later, lusher work.
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Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Bob Dylan recorded “Simple Twist of Fate” for one of his most popular albums, 1975′s Blood On the Tracks. Overanalyzed by critics and Bob fans everywhere, Tracks was dismissed by Dylan for having been influenced by the drama of a failing marriage, but there’s no denying how much pain comes through on the album’s songs, particularly this one.
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Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Once upon a time, there was a kind of music that was too dangerous to be sung on the radio, on TV commercials, at sporting events. But a band could spend sixty-four hundred dollars to make an album filled with this music, and watch the people’s reactions change over the decades from fear to fascination to full-on embrace. That’s what happened with the debut album by the Ramones, which opened with “Blitzkrieg Bop,” arguably the most influential song in the history of punk rock.
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