Oct 192018
 

That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.

Stop Your Sobbing

Funny things, songs. Some don’t even get heard, never leaving their creators’ rooms (or their heads); others seem to spread like a special kind of virus, played at parties and bedrooms and bus stops and supermarkets everywhere until they’re inescapable, a global pandemic without cure. (Yes, “Despacito,” I’m talkin’ to you.)

Regardless of their popularity or lack thereof, all songs are an attempt to crystallize a feeling and then share it with the world. And every once in a while, having completed a sort of emotional circuit, a song returns to its owner, carrying back far more than it left with.

Here’s the story of one which did just that.
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Sep 072018
 

That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.

Was 1966 the pivotal year in popular music? Jon Savage’s 1966: The Year the Decade Imploded makes a strong case for it, pointing to epochal records by the Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys, and many others. Fueled by tectonic changes in politics and culture—the civil rights and women’s liberation movements, LSD, the pill, the yawning abyss of the Vietnam War—popular music burst through a perceptual wall, in the process changing from being the soundtrack behind events to being the events themselves. Nothing of the sort had ever happened before, and it’s possible nothing like it will ever happen again.

A wealth of inspired rock songs bubbled up to seize the public’s attention that year: The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby,” the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb,” the Byrds’ “Eight Miles High,” Bob Dylan’s “Visions of Johanna.”

Oh, and the Troggs’ “Wild Thing.”
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Aug 242018
 

That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.

Paper Lace

For the members of Paper Lace, opportunity knocked.

The band from Nottingham, England (town nickname: “Lace City”) had been playing together in one form or another for six years. In 1970 they auditioned to be on Opportunity Knocks, the Britain’s Got Talent of its day. It took three years for them to get the chance to be on the show, but when it happened, they were ready. Seven million viewers watched them win, again and again – five weeks in a row, in fact. One of those viewers was Connie Callendar. With a word to her husband, she set the band on a violently twisting road to (and from) fame and fortune.
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Jul 132018
 

That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.

Time travel is impossible, say some physicists. But ask any true music fan if it can be done, and the answer will be an enthusiastic “Yes!” And it’s a lot easier than you might think.

How? Just traipse on over to your laptop (or, more likely, the smartphone currently warming your pocket). Punch in “Sheryl Crow First Cut is the Deepest,” and within seconds you’ll be transported back to 2003, Crow’s supple mezzo-soprano filling your earbuds and floating out over a lovely mandolin and steel-string guitar intro. It’s a powerful song, too: An affecting plea for love after the scorched-earth anguish of an affair gone awry.

When it was released, Crow’s song was a perfect encapsulation of that era’s modern, high-gloss folk-rock: Well-oiled, heavy on heartstring-tugging touches and somewhat light on passion. It was a hit, too, peaking at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March of 2004. But as regular Cover Me readers, you’re already bracing yourself for the inevitable pull of the rug: Sheryl Crow didn’t write “The First Cut Is the Deepest,” nor was she even the first to chart with it.
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Jun 222018
 

That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.

In the summer of 1982, sharp-eared listeners heard something rather unusual issuing from their transistor radios. Sandwiched between the glossy arena-prog of Asia’s “Heat of the Moment” and the fist-pumping sports-rock of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” a surfy, strangely tribal tom-tom beat fairly leapt out of the speakers. A few bars later, crunching electric bass and an irresistible guitar melody — wait, is this a Latin dance track? — joined in. By the time the vocals began, sung by a perky-sounding young woman spinning a playground rhyme about a “guy who’s tough but sweet,” it was all over: Like sugar itself, this song was going to prove itself nearly impossible to quit.

Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy” was one of the defining moments of New Wave, an earworm that continues to work its magic some 36 years after it was recorded, and long after the band itself had dissolved into acrimony, innumerable lineup changes, and — worst of all — competing Facebook pages.
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Jun 082018
 

That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.

Fred Neil just wanted to go home. The cantankerous folkie hated being in the studio, and pulling his third album together was like pulling teeth. It was almost finished, but it had to have one more tune to fill it out.

“We needed another song, and he said he might have one more,” said his manager, Herb Cohen. “Matter of fact, I think he completed it in the toilet of the Capitol Records studio. As you can tell by the lyric, all he wanted to do was finish the album and go to Florida.”

Singing in a gruff, weary voice, Neil finished his yearning to breathe free in one take and got out of the studio as fast as he could. The album, Fred Neil, didn’t sell well, which probably suited Neil just fine – the less publicity he had to do, the better. Little did he know that he had just come up with the key that would unlock the door to his freedom.
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