Aug 272018
 
Pearl Jam Covers Bowie

Pretty sure that Pearl Jam loves their occupation. Show after show goes on for three high-energy hours of hits and deep-cut surprises. How can they amp up their performance even more? By playing in a venue that holds special meaning for the band’s MVP: Chicago’s Wrigley Field, Eddie Vedder’s happy place.

For the tour stop of The Home X Away Shows, fans were treated to a cover of “Rebel Rebel,” the first time Pearl Jam performed the David Bowie song live. The timing of this new cover rollout was seemingly related to a walk-off grand slam by David Bote of the Chicago Cubs that happened earlier in the week. You following this? David Bote hits a grand slam, then Pearl Jam covers David Bowie. Continue reading »

Aug 242018
 
asleep at the wheel seven nights

In 2056, when they surely celebrate the 100th anniversary of Moon Mullican’s “Seven Nights To Rock,” listeners will probably assume the song was a hit given all the covers it has spawned. But though it is an infectious rocker similar in tone to such classics of the era as “Rock Around the Clock” and “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” it failed to light up the charts and was remaindered to the dustbin of history. Mullican passed away in 1967, never attaining mainstream stardom.

In the mid-’80s the song began to resurface, first when Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit covered it on 1985 album The Rose of England. In the ensuing years, it has been covered by a numerous artists such as BR5-49, Brian Setzer, Bryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen and the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. Continue reading »

Aug 222018
 

In Pick Five, great artists pick five cover songs that matter to them.

david olney cover songs

In 1991, Townes Van Zandt wrote the following: “Anytime anyone asks me who my favorite music writers are, I say Mozart, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Bob Dylan, and Dave Olney. Dave Olney is one of the best songwriters I’ve ever heard — and that’s true. I mean that from my heart.”

Twenty-seven years later, Townes is gone, but Olney keeps on keepin’ on. He may not have become a household name in that time, but his reputation among his peers has only grown. Emmylou Harris has sung three of his songs. Linda Ronstadt tackled a pair herself. When Steve Earle covered Olney’s “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning,” he noted it took him four or five years of playing the song before he realized it was “so perfectly constructed that it doesn’t have a rhyme in it.” He added that Olney was “one of the best songwriters in the world.” Continue reading »

Aug 212018
 
posthumous aretha franklin covers

Last night’s VMAs surprised many by omitting any sort of musical tribute to Aretha Franklin. You’d think if anyone could pull that together with a few days notice, MTV could – but honestly, I get it. There have been fewer memorial covers of Aretha Franklin than we saw for Tom Petty, Prince, Leonard Cohen, and many others. Even Chris Cornell earned more in-concert tributes, and Aretha’s career of hits goes back decades further than his.

Why is that? Certainly Aretha is no less beloved than these others; eloquent and moving tributes in other forms continue to pour in hourly. My guess: Aretha is first and foremost known as a singer, maybe the greatest ever (Rolling Stone said she was). Though certainly no songwriting slouch (pretty much every part you’d sing along to in “Respect,” she added herself), Aretha may simply be too daunting vocally for many musicians to attempt.

Luckily, not all musicians. Here are the best posthumous Aretha Franklin covers we’ve seen so far. Hopefully more are coming! Continue reading »

Aug 202018
 
josh t pearson cover

The last time I saw Josh T. Pearson live, he pulled a knife on an unruly audience member. Or at least he threatened to – my memory’s fuzzy, it was almost a decade ago. The former Lift to Experience frontman certainly looked like a man who might pull a knife on someone, clad in a jetblack bad-cowboy outfit, hat and long beard and all, under the scorching Austin sun.

It was a rare show promoting a rare album: Pearson’s solo debut Last Of the Country Gentlemen, one of those albums that got passed around like a secret by those in the know. Over half of the seven tracks topped ten minutes, harrowing fingerpicked ballads with titles like “Sweetheart, I Ain’t Your Christ” and “Honeymoon’s Great! Wish You Were Her.” It was my favorite album of 2011, and those of us who grew obsessed with it couldn’t wait for a follow-up.

The wait took seven years. Finally, a few months ago, album number two – cheekily titled The Straight Hits! – finally came out. A genre mashup of country and rock and soul, it sounds nothing like the first album. Written quickly to break out of writer’s block, every song was written according to Pearson’s self-imposed “Five Pillars”:
1) All songs must have a verse, a chorus and a bridge.
2) The lyrics must run 16 lines or less.
3) They must have the word ‘straight’ in the title.
4) That title must be four words or less.
5) They must submit to song above all else.

The album is a lot of fun – fun is the last word one would apply to the previous album – and it’s been a thrill to see Pearson re-emerge from hibernation. Not least because with every rare album cycle he delivers some knockout covers. Last time around it was “Rivers of Babylon” and a stunning Christmas EP. Continue reading »

Aug 172018
 
sky ferreira voices carry

As a casual yet growing fan of  Sky Ferreira, I was super interested to hear her take on one of my favorite bands of the 80s: ‘Til Tuesday. Ferreira performed “Voice Carry” live a few times earlier this year, and recently gave her fans a treat by posting the cover on SoundCloud. Which she almost couldn’t do, as her label reportedly blocked access to her SoundCloud account for a while. Nothing is ever easy (btw, she has an excellent cover of “Easy”). Hmmm, record labels giving an artist problems? Paging Aimee Mann. Continue reading »