Sep 242015

By no stretch of the imagination do I consider myself a Meghan Trainor fan. Between her confused mantle of feminist empowerment and overexposure, she simply wasn’t an artist to whom I was willing to give time. Fortunately, there are artists who are able to reinterpret some of her more recent and tolerable work. Her duet with John Legend, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” despite its simplicity, can have universal appeal to any of those who have experienced doubt within a relationship. Newcomers Smithfield take this somewhat generic ambivalence and manage to make it more personal and aching. Continue reading »

Sep 182015

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

When all the bien-pensant trendsetters diss the Eagles (and they do, they do), “Boys of Summer,” written post-Eagles 1.0 and pre-hell freezing over by Don Henley, their best singer and their best writer, is the song that leads my opening statement for the defense. I remember the first time I heard it; I’d long before grown weary of the old band, but this song astonished and delighted. The combination of sound and lyric served to kick me into a mythical time remembered, irrespective of impossibility, brown skins shining in what little sun made it into my drab surroundings, lifting me into celebration, looking back, yes, always looking back. (I recall actual Deadheads kicking up over the perceived lyrical put-down, but to me, hell, it was a reminder and a kick-start.)

It’s a difficult song to do well, as the original hits all the bases available. Second Hand Songs tells me at least twenty-three have tried, with YouTube adding several more risible attempts to the list. One was even a successful hit in Eurodisco land, as some may remember. Wanna hear that one again? Tough, it ain’t here tonight. But here are three others, in ascending order of quality.
Continue reading »

Sep 102015
hollywood v

Back in the 1970s, Alice Cooper was president of The Lair of the Hollywood Vampires.  It was a drinking club of various rock stars that hung out in the loft at the Rainbow Bar and Grill in L.A.  Members included  Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, Harry Nilsson and Micky Dolenz.  (John Lennon was also an honorary member.)

Recently, Cooper brought back the Hollywood Vampire name for a super group that includes Johnny Depp, Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Paul McCartney, Perry Farrell (Jane’s Addiction), Dave Grohl (Nirvana/Foo Fighters), Brian Johnson (AC/DC), Robbie Krieger (The Doors), Slash (G-n-R), Joe Walsh (Eagles), Orianthi and Kip Winger.  (And that’s not even all of them.)

The album, which hits stores on Friday, features covers from Led Zeppelin, T. Rex, Small Faces and Badfinger.  (Along with a couple of new songs written by Cooper.)

Here is their cover of The Who’s “My Generation”.

More about Hollywood Vampires can be found on their website and on Facebook.

Sep 022015

Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.

Here at Cover Me Q&A, we’ll be taking questions about cover songs and giving as many different answers as we can. This will give us a chance to hold forth on covers we might not otherwise get to talk about, to give Cover Me readers a chance to learn more about individual staffers’ tastes and writing styles, and to provide an opportunity for some back-and-forth, as we’ll be taking requests (learn how to do so at feature’s end).

Today’s question, from Cover Me staffer Jordan Becker: What’s a cover that made a significant, annoying, and/or unforgivable change to the original lyrics?
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Aug 282015

YouTube is filled with amateur cover artists. Most stink. On The ‘Tube extracts the exceptions.


Ethan Gold’s got smarts – he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard. Ethan Gold’s got genes – his father Herbert is a novelist, and his twin brother Ari is a student-Oscar-winning director who plays ukulele in their band, the Gold Brothers. Ethan Gold’s got serious music credentials – aside from scoring his brother’s films, he’s released 2011’s Songs from a Toxic Apartment (Gold’s residence had enough mold and asbestos that when the Department of Public Health condemned it, he needed a gas mask to get his possessions), which won high praise from Pitchfork and others, and his new album Beings features fan favorite “Our Love is Beautiful.”

And Ethan Gold’s got a bedroom closet, where he sometimes goes to record some amazing covers.
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Jul 312015

In Defense takes a second look at a much maligned cover artist or album and asks, “Was it really as bad as all that?”


When it comes to parenting, there are really only two rules you need to follow:

1) Mammas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.

2) Mammas, don’t let your babies grow up to listen to bad music.

I’m sure there’s something else in there about head injuries and not touching the stove, but I don’t have kids so that’s not really my area of expertise.
Continue reading »

Jul 212015
flock of dimes

“Don’t Dream It’s Over,” first reentered the covers stratosphere with Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande’s adorable rendition for the Happy Hippie Foundation earlier this year. Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner (under her solo moniker Flock of Dimes) and Sylvan Esso also covered the Crowded House jam for AV Club’s Undercover series, and as much as I loved Miley and Ariana’s take, this one may have it beat. Continue reading »

Jul 142015
miguel rivera

Miguel Rivera is an online guitar teacher from the Zaragoza province of Spain. The first time I heard of him was a couple of years back when I did a YouTube search to find how to play “Layla”. Unfortunately, he only taught the “Unplugged” version, not the official Derek & The Dominos version I was searching for. Still, I have come back to his YouTube channel quite a few times to learn various songs or blues techniques. (The lessons are in Spanish, so you might want to take some Spanish lessons before visiting.) Continue reading »