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).
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.
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).
As you know, Prince unexpectedly passed away last week. As you may also know, in the last decade or so before he passed, he had a contentious relationship with cover songs. He was famously litigious about getting covers of his songs pulled off blogs and YouTube, and regularly questioned in interviews whether an artist should be allowed to cover another artist’s song without getting the original artist’s permissions. We even wrote a defense of covers to Prince five years to the day before his death (spooky). We loved Prince, but Prince didn’t necessarily love us – or anyone else who recorded or shared covers of his songs.
So today’s staff/reader question arises from that same debate, what specific cover might be the one to convince Prince that covers of his songs were a good thing. Our picks are below, add your own in the comments.
Today’s Question: If you could have introduced Prince to a Prince cover, what would it be?
Since Prince’s sudden passing yesterday, tributes have poured in from artists around the world. Some of those artists had concerts scheduled last night and took the opportunity to play Prince covers – in some cases covers they’d performed before, in other cases covers the put together last-minute to pay tribute to the legend. Either way, this first night of covers is raw and wonderful, a first-run at what will no doubt be thousands of new covers to come (Coachella is this weekend…)
We’ve rounded up a bunch that have either video or audio below. They’re mostly live from concerts last night, but in a couple cases they’re from artists who couldn’t wait for their next show and posted new covers themselves. We’ll keep adding more as they surface. We know The Damned covered “Manic Monday” and Christine and the Queens covered “I Feel For You” – anyone got full video for those?
Whenever one watches HBO’s widely successful Game of Thrones, a show full of magical realism and naked people riding dragons, the question always pops up: why isn’t there a bluegrass cover of the theme song? Well, question no more; bluegrass band Flatt Lonesome performed its take on the show’s theme song live on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction, which you can watch below.