There is something about the minimalist funk of Frank Ocean‘s “Lost” that induces a dreamy feeling of sultry, summer nights. Live Footage, a duo of experimental dance musicians, captured this vibe perfectly with their live rendition of the channel ORANGE hit.
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: What’s a cover song that introduced you to an artist?
Sweet Judy “Blue Eyes” Collins is still majestic at 75. Judy’s new release, Both Sides Now- The Very Best Of includes 28 beautiful original songs and interpretations of legendary songs. Her first single, “Helpless”, is a Neil Young cover, and a duet with Rachael Sage. Judy has called Neil Young a master songwriter. She has been connected to Neil and the rest of Crosby, Stills, and Nash for many years. It’s her on-again off-again romance with Stephen Stills that inspired Stills to pen the lyrics “change my life, make it right, be my lady…” on “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”. This was a failed attempt to get Judy back in the late ’60s. But the song was a hit in 1969 and made Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of all Time. You can hear a Collins-Stills duet on the song “Last Thing on My Mind” (2010) on Both Sides Now.
Judy’s been an inspiration to musicians and politicians alike. Bill and Hillary Clinton named their daughter Chelsea after Judy’s rendition of Joni Mitchell’s Chelsea Hotel.
Judy has had her share of struggles; depression, alcoholism, bulimia, and the suicide of her son to name a few battles. She’s triumphed beautifully and is not at all helpless like the title of her first single. Judy’s graceful collaboration with a very young, virtually unknown artist, Rachael Sage, on her first duet is a testament to her humble and true devotion to music.
To read more about Judy, click here.
In 1949, Canadian folk icon Wade Hemsworth paid tribute to his homeland with “The Black Fly Song” (though any lyric that says “I’ll die with the black fly a-pickin’ my bones in Northern Ontario” is a dark tribute indeed). Doug Paisley lives in Toronto, but as a fascinating SPIN profile last year revealed, does a lot of his writing in an off-the-grid cabin up north. So for a new Exclaim! TV session, he paid tribute to Hemsworth’s tribute, covering “The Black Fly Song.”
When Cosovel singer Izolda Sorenson emailed me her band’s music, I wasn’t sure what I was hearing. The email was little help, as it appeared to have been run through Google Translate: “I travesty poetry of 20th century slovenian dadaist, Srecko Kosovel, changing historical context, but trying to keep emotionality of poems rebellion character.”
But the videos she included were striking. Dark and surreal, they featured ambulances and bodypaint, like someone who had been watching a lot of David Lynch. One mimicked the creepy aesthetic of Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer”; the other seemed more like “Somebody That I Used To Know.”
Oscar season is amongst us, and it’s a shame that cover songs cannot be considered for best song. The film Wild, starring a nominated Reese Witherspoon, features an incredible cover of R.E.M.‘s “Walk Unafraid,” by First Aid Kit – one so good, we named it one of the best covers of 2014. Now the Swedish sister act has teamed up with guitarist Peter Buck to deliver this goosebump-inducing live rendition.
Back in 2009, TV on the Radio released a cover of David Bowie‘s “Heroes” for the charity album War Time Presents Heroes. The album benefited the charity’s aid efforts in real war-stricken areas such as Iraq, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The cover has recently been deemed fitting for wars set in HBO’s fantasy drama Game of Thrones trailer for the upcoming fifth season.