In high school, a friend and I drove two hours to a blues festival in rural Maine one Saturday. When we got to the gate we found tickets to be well outside of our meager budget, but there was only one artist we’d wanted to see anyway: Johnny Winter. So we found a low fence we could peer over, and sat, and waited.
Pat Benatar‘s “Love is a Battlefield” is indelibly linked to the ’80s, both because anyone who grew up in that era couldn’t escape its broad reach and because of the decade’s stereotypical flourishes found throughout the song: synths, reverb, and melodrama. Despite the fact that it hasn’t aged particularly well, Benatar’s powerful and emotive voice is enough to make it worth keeping on your iPod, even if you only listen sparingly. It’s the sound of young love and desperation. Although the new version by Wrongchilde is very different in sound, that essence of desperation remains.
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.
“Baby Don’t You Do It” was written by the premier Motown songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland. As with other Motown songs, it got passed around the stable a bit; originally meant for the Supremes, it wound up going to Marvin Gaye, who had a minor hit with it, and Stevie Wonder and the Isley Brothers recorded it as well. It also got a toehold across the pond, showing up in setlists of the Small Faces and the Who, among others. And let’s not forget other forgotten versions, like those by the Wailers and Barbara Randolph (well worth an exploratory visit to YouTube). In other words, for a song that’s not often mentioned as one of Motown’s greatest hits, it’s made a deep, deep impression.
A musical group that has been described as a sort of “warm and fuzzy” emo band may not immediately sound like the type of group to cover a Robyn song. Chicago-based Kittyhawk, however, has not only managed to cover Robyn’s highly danceable hit, but has done so in an adorable and charming manner for Space Jam Sessions.
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 song you didn’t know was a cover song?
Mark Oliver Everett, sometimes known simply as E, always pulls off great covers. And he often does it best when he slows the song down wringing every last bit of emotion from the source material. Recently, the Eels frontman performed a version of ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ in Amsterdam, in tribute to Steve Perry, the ex-frontman of Journey. This tribute to Perry seemed in response to the ex-Journey man partially coming out of his self-imposed retirement to perform with the Eels at recent gigs in the US.
We here at Cover Me like our occasional long holiday weekends too. We’ll leave you with a few of our favorite patriotic pieces, and wish you all a happy Fourth of July (hope you enjoy the 5th & 6th, too)!