Whatever Disintegration means to certain people, Home, Like Noplace Is There is my own keepsake for when I want to hide away from the world. Neither band, The Cure and The Hotelier respectively, sounds much alike, yet when I listen to either band and I close my eyes with my headphones on or drive on some Midwest highway I feel outside myself. Both paint colorful dreams of sound, one of swirling lullaby blue and lipstick red and the other calm, natural forest green. Both turn guitars into voices, one gentle and moody and the other loud and unabashed, celebrating the urgent, exaggerated emotions we always want life to encompass for all its joy and dread (shouldn’t life always sound so perverse and beautiful?). As it is with the best music, they both trick me into feeling alive, which is the most stunning thing.
Since Prince’s death, hundreds of musicians have paid tribute with new covers (just look how many did that first night). And massive names abound: Bruce Springsteen, Smashing Pumpkins, D’Angelo, Mumford and Sons, My Morning Jacket. Just last night even Paul McCartney joined the mix, busting out what’s become the mourning cover of choice, “Purple Rain.” But maybe our favorite new Prince cover so far is by an artist much further under the radar.
In his time with Lifter Puller, The Hold Steady, and in his own solo career, Craig Finn has told stories of party-hard townies, drug-dealing pimps, young conflicted Christians, and other boys and girls in America, and he made them all sound romantic, tragic, and worth fighting for. He sang about you and me like Bruce Springsteen wrote about his own friends and family, except Finn sang about our own specific anxieties – our post-Internet, post-9/11 hopes and fears of the future. It doesn’t matter what stories were true and what weren’t; the best storytellers can jump into any skin and tells us what it means to be alive and human in any walk of life. Good storytellers should also be able to embody a different time and pull out lessons that never die (though the characters often do).
We’ve been Land of Leland fans for a while now – back in 2011 Cover Me readers commissioned him to cover Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere,” and then earlier this year we premiered his new Whitney Houston cover. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait another five years for a follow-up, as he’s recently posted a cover of Björk’s “Unravel” to his Bandcamp.
When folks have paid tribute to Merle Haggard recently, they’ve mostly picked the obvious songs: “Mama Tried” and “Okie From Muskogee.” But Grammy-nomined singer-songwriter John Fullbright – an actual Okie, unlike Merle – dug far deeper into the catalog, for the best Haggard cover yet. It’s an obscure song called “Sometimes I Dream,” from Haggard’s 1990 album Blue Jungle. How many people know Haggard albums from the ’90s?
The Grateful Dead – the iconic (nay, legendary) Palo Alto ensemble whose longevity, sheer number of live performances, eclectic and improvisational musical styles, as well as religious fanbase cemented them as one of the most influential and groundbreaking groups of rock and roll history – will be honored this May in an upcoming epic homage titled Day of the Dead.
As one of our own feature writers, Jordan Becker, so elegantly put in his In the Spotlight segment: “The Dead were not only a band; they typified a lifestyle that extended the hippie culture of the 1960s decades after most of the world turned it into a punchline.” Dubbed the “pioneering Godfathers of the jam band world,” their legacy lingers on, and with contributions from an overwhelming number of some of the music industry’s most respected names today, their music will be celebrated.