“Covering the Hits” looks at covers of a randomly-selected #1 hit from the past sixty-odd years.
Unlike most #1 hits we’ve covered so far, Three Dog Night’s 1972 chart-topper “Black and White” is itself a cover. The song, written by Earl Robinson and David Arkin (Alan Arkin’s father), was first recorded by Pete Seeger in 1956. Even in Three Dog Night’s marginally more rockin’ arrangement, it still sounds like a Seeger song, and not exactly a top-tier Seeger song at that. “A child is black, a child is white / A whole world looks upon the sight” sounds like folk music’s “Ebony and Ivory.” The fact that Three Dog Night took this well-meaning trifle to number one shows just how high the band was riding after the previous year’s “Joy to the World.”Continue reading »
Dom Thomas is perhaps best known for his other gig, as founder of acclaimed reissue label Finders Keepers. So no surprise that the songs he selected for his band Whyte Horses’ new covers album dig deep. With a shifting group of collaborators, he covers some real cratedigger picks by groups like Belgian music polymath Plastic Bertrand (“Ca̧ Plane Pour Moi”) and Long Island twin soft-rockers Alessi Brothers (“Seabird”).Continue reading »
Paul McCartney’s classic ballad of elderly isolation is given a bluegrass update in The Brothers Comatose‘s new cover of “Eleanor Rigby.” The Beatles‘ summer 1966 single (paired with “Yellow Submarine”) is their first song to feature no instruments by the band members, though McCartney wrote it on piano. Instead, George Martin wrote a string arrangement for a doubled up string quartet, giving the song a cinematic quality no Beatles songs and few pop songs had previously. The Beatles only contributed vocals to the finished product.Continue reading »
That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.
In 1982, talented multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield was looking for a change. It had been nearly nine years since Virgin Records had released his debut Tubular Bells, with a title track that had gone on to be featured as the theme to The Exorcist. His follow-up releases had followed much the same format (minus the somewhat creepy distinction): long form, avant-garde, eclectic orchestral pieces, with names like Hergest Ridge and Incantations. While his records were critically praised, commercial success was proving to be elusive.
In 1979, Oldfield started writing songs that were shorter and more commercially viable, in addition to some longer pieces. 1982’s Five Miles Out featured five songs: the nearly 25-minute “Taurus II” and four shorter songs, including the breakout hit “Family Man.” Oldfield wrote all the music to that song; five other writers are credited with the lyrics. This synth- and echo-heavy tune featured Scottish vocalist Maggie Reilly (one of the credited lyric writers; she would remain a regular collaborator) on vocals, ostensibly telling the story of a prostitute attempting to pick up a man in a bar. The man continually turns down her propositions, protesting that he’s a “family man.” The intensity increases with each verse, reflecting the female’s growing frustration with his repeated rejection. Neither the single nor the album charted in the US, although the single did reach #29 in Canada.
They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with covers of his or her songs. Let someone else do the work for a while. Happy birthday!
Dave Grohl turns 51 today, and in half a century he has managed to be part of legendary bands such as Nirvana and the Foo Fighters as well as play with Scream, Them Crooked Vultures, Late!, Probot, and Queens of the Stone Age. He is also raising a kick-ass daughter who is brimming with musical talent.
The Foo Fighters have recently been releasing live and acoustic songs from the “Foo Files.” Since July, 10 EPs have appeared, giving fans a fresh take on old favorites and a trip down memory lane for those lucky enough to hear them live. New music is in the works for the Foo Fighters as well, and this headline says it all. Oh, the anticipation!
Speaking of fresh takes, we wish a “Happy Birthday” to Grohl with homages to some of the Foo Fighters hits. If you are more in the mood for Nirvana covers, we understand! Check out our post on their MTV Unplugged album and our list of the Best Nirvana Covers.
In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.
Neil Peart, the deep-thinking, world-traveling, book-reading, book-writing, virtuosic drummer and primary lyricist for the Canadian power trio Rush, has died at age 67. Peart died of glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, that had first affected him just over three years ago. He joined Rush in 1974, replacing original drummer John Rutsey, who had to leave the band due to health-related issues. Peart was a drummer’s drummer, with dozens of industry and press awards and hundreds of accolades from his peers. While his technical prowess is beyond impeccable, he received nearly as much attention for the lyrical direction in which he steered the band. As we mark his passing here at Cover Me, we’ll look at cover versions of Rush tunes that honor both of these equally important contributions. Continue reading »