Kris-Kristofferson

I hesitated to write about Kris Kristofferson covering Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down”, mostly because I just wrote about POP ETC’s cover of the same song a few weeks ago and I didn’t want to get typecast as the “All Tom, All The Time” writer. Continue reading »

Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.

pickin

Anyone attempting to make the argument that Pickin’ On Modest Mouse: A Bluegrass Tribute Featuring Iron Horse is a Cover Classic – an argument that was promised/threatened by my response to this Q&A a few days ago and is related to a defense of bluegrass covers we made a while back – needs to refute two rational, gut-level reactions to the artifact that is this album. First, one needs to establish that the album is not simply another gimmicky entry in the Pickin’ On series, a collection of fairly obvious mid-oughties albums that attempted to pin the banjo on unlikely donkeys in ways that were often funny and almost always “pretty good for a novelty album.” Second, one needs to demonstrate that this album is somehow different than other albums attempting to strip away all of the Modest Mouse noise to reveal the sensitive songwriting lurking just beneath the shouting.
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britney-spears-toms-diner-cover-giorgio-moroder1

Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner” has likely popped into your head many times since the late 80s’, when it was first released. With a simple melody, a visual storyline for lyrics, and recurring “da-da DA-da, da-da DA-da da-da DA-da, da-da DA-da”, it’s a song to which possibly a tiny baby could help sing along. Like one of Suzanne’s contemporaries, The Terminator, this song has had multiple lives. Originally released in 1987 as an acapella piece, it was re-released as a bootleg with a dance beat by DNA in 1990, and there have been multiple versions since. Thankfully, Suzanne has had the grace to see these copyright infringements as creative pursuits and has not filed any lawsuits to limit versioning. Continue reading »

blitzentrapper

In 2008, Blitzen Trapper‘s album Furr generated a lot of buzz, as well as a standout track in the title song. Flash forward a few albums to 2013’s VII, and the experimental indie-folk group out of Portland sound as if they’ve left some of the wilder stuff behind and headed solidly into a southern-rock/jam band inspired direction. Last year their live cover of Bob Dylan’s “Man in Me” with Dawes stuck to this blueprint, and now they continue in the same vein with their most recent cover of Neil Young. Continue reading »

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

Willie Nelson, 82 years old today, has always been an awkward cuss. Still relentlessly on the road and putting out record after record, somehow it would seem a cop-out to “let others do the work for a while,” as is the norm for these pieces (and besides, been there done that), so this is more a celebration of the myriad and varied covers he has performed over the decades. The germ for this idea came as the staff pow-wow took place around our best country covers of non-country songs Q&A, with Mr. Nelson featuring twice.

His career in music has lasted, so far, a staggering 59 years, his first recording being 1956’s “Lumberjack.” Since then, he has passed through many incarnations, from clean cut C&W performer, consummate Nashville standards songwriter, self-imposed banishment and his counter-intuitively hippie redneck years (copyright me), banding up with and as like-minded (the) Outlaws, before settling into iconic status as a national treasure, lauded by presidents and paupers alike. Somehow his skirmishes with the I.R.S. and his enduring support for marijuana has but strengthened his appeal, even within the staunchly conservative country demographic. And, of course, all of us longhairs just love him. Don’t we?
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beatles

There seems to be an unlimited amount of three things in this world: 1) Money in Washington, D.C.; 2) Fast & Furious movie storylines; 3) Tributes to The Beatles. Continue reading »

You know how during summer blockbuster season trailers for awesome movies being released in December are shown? Turns out Iron & Wine‘s Sam Beam and Band of Horses‘ Ben Bridwell decided to take a similar approach when teasing their upcoming covers album. Sing Into My Mouth, a joint effort in covers, is not being released until July 17th, but the two singer songwriters figured they would give us a taste three months early with two covers of Sade and Unicorn. Continue reading »

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

Björn Ulvaeus may not be a household name, but the same cannot be said of ABBA, the band he cofounded with his songwriting partner Benny Andersson. This is a band whose greatest-hits album Gold went to number one in England on five different occasions over a span of sixteen years. A band who numbered Bono, Kurt Cobain, and Vladimir Putin among their biggest fans. A band whose breaking-up songs rivaled Rumours for intraband romantic schadenfreude.

Ulvaes built on this legacy after ABBA dissolved. He cowrote the music for the stage show Chess, the origin of “One Night in Bangkok.” The ABBA-based stage show Mamma Mia! has grossed over two billion worldwide; the movie, over $600 million. Speaking of money money money, today he is a key figure in turning Sweden into a cash-free society. He had an umlaut in his name thirty years before Motörhead did. Not even his distressing resemblance to Kato Kaelin could put an end to his coolness.
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