We’ve heard plenty of covers by Alejandro Escovedo before. Here’s him covering Peter Case, Mott the Hoople, and Doug Sahm. Here’s him playing Bob Dylan’s “Dark Eyes.” Here’s him performing “Beast of Burden” with Bruce Springsteen. This, though, is the first cover of Alejandro Escovedo we’ve posted. It was worth the wait.
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Regular readers know we love Bob Dylan covers. They also know we love collecting live covers in what we creatively call Live Collections. Well this is a live collection to beat them all. It’s 33 discs of live Dylan covers performed by, well, everybody!
Last month we profiled the magnificent Alejandro Escovedo. Timed with the release of his new Street Songs of Love, it showcased five selections from the many covers he’s performed. The Rolling Stones choice was “Sway,” but we mentioned he often rocks “Beast of Burden” as well. Usually he does it alone. This past weekend he did it with Bruce Springsteen.
The Boss joined Escovedo and the Sensitive Boys onstage Friday night at New Jersey’s Stone Pony club, the same stage on which the Boss cut his teeth as an axeman-for-hire back in the day. Together they played Escovedo’s “Always a Friend,” as they have before; “Faith,” the new album cut on which Springsteen appears; and “Beast of Burden” to close things out. Fansite Backstreets notes that Bruce has never performed this before, but he’s a natural. The man even rips out a couple killer solos like he used to do at the Pony . Watch the video and download the MP3 (which unfortunately cuts off a little early) below.
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Say what? Let’s take them one at a time. Escovedo came down with a severe form of Hepatitis C a few years back. Like many musicians, he did not have insurance for his mounting medical bills. Unlike many musicians, he had friends and admirers in folks like Steve Earle, Los Lonely Boys, and Son Volt. They came together an all-star Americana tribute album, raising money for Escovedo and turning fans onto the Texas songwriter in the process. Thanks in part to that effort, Escovedo is now disease-free.
Then, in 2008 Bruce Springsteen brought him on stage for an Austin show. Springsteen’s guests usually help on “Thunder Road” or “Glory Days” or something, but the E Street Band played Escovedo’s own “Always a Friend,” then sold that performance on iTunes. Watching Escovedo’s excitement will give you a warm fuzzy feeling. Incidentally, the Boss appears on Escovedo’s latest album Street Songs of Love (in stores today) to duet on “Faith.”
The fortieth anniversary of our moon landing has generated a good deal of buzz (pun intended). Much of it is bemoaning the current state of N.A.S.A. which, without the Soviets around the keep them on their toes, hasn’t done a lot of late. They’re currently saying by 2020 we can get somebody to the moon. Again. Umm…yay? I understand that with the current economic and political climate we’ve got larger priorities, but with the current climate climate we can’t forget about the rest of space entirely. Earth’s only got so long.
Shout Out Loud – Man on the Moon (R.E.M.)
There’s no doubt this is a great song, but if you’re like me you’ve heard it just one too many times. It’s starting to get a grocery-store vibe, which is a shame. Add a little world-techno backbeat, some gospel harmonies and it’s rejuvenated. [Buy]
Keller Williams – Moondance (Van Morrison)
Keller’s an interesting cat. He’s a staple of the jam band scene on one hand (generally a negative in my book), but he does all sorts of interesting things with loops, creating songs with layer upon layer, all by himself. Here’s a live trick of that sort, a ten-minute long acoustic-jazz frolic. [Buy]
The Pale – Walking on the Moon (The Police)
The moon, being smaller than the earth, has a weaker field of gravity. Sting seems to get that on one hand, noting that “giant steps are what you take.” But then he confusingly follows that with “I hope my legs don’t break.” With so little gravity, why exactly is he worried about his legs breaking? Perhaps this should have gone in last week’s bad lyric post. [Buy]
The White Stripes – Moonage Daydream (David Bowie)
I can’t quite figure out why Jack White seems to be hacking an English accent in the intro here, but trying to second-guess Jack never ends well. Regardless, he’s clearly a big Ziggy Stardust fan; in 2006 “It Ain’t Easy” became a Raconteurs set staple. [Buy]
Rasputina – Bad Mood Rising (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
When I saw her play this live Melora Craeger mentioned that she loved the song, but thought the original was way too peppy for the lyrical content. Transpose into a minor key, play on a cello, and her goth-swamp take creates a song both haunting and haunted. [Buy]
Clinker – I’ll Shoot the Moon (Tom Waits)
Tom Waits has a lot of moon tunes. “Grapefruit Moon.” “Drunk on the Moon.” Etc. This one gets a little white-boy Latino touch, bouncing along with cocky swagger and background singers who seem to accept the offer. [Buy]
Bob Dylan – Moon River (Mercer/Mancini)
Bob’s only played this one once, at an Indiana show in August of 1990. He dedicated it to “Stevie Souls” or something of that nature, but I can’t figure out who that is. This here’s an audience recording and it ain’t pristine, but it’s more than listenable. [Buy]
Sheila E. and Pete Escovedo – The Ballad of the Sun & Moon (Alejandro Escovedo)
Escovedo Sr. got some big names to pitch in for his Por Vida tribute when he struggled with Hepatitus C. Here Sheila E., of Prince entourage fame, backs up Escovedo Jr. who – surprise! – sounds a lot like his dad. [Buy]
Maria Muldaur – Moonlight (Bob Dylan)
This is exactly the sort of cover I normally hate. Smooth jazz by a woman who thinks she’s the second coming of Billy Holiday. Blech. Muldaur is pure class and, with the right song choice — this is one of Dylan’s jazziest — pulls it off beautifully. [Buy]
The Flaming Lips – Moonlight Mile (The Rolling Stones)
In their marathon Bonnaroo ’07 show, they played their regular set (complete with spaceship), then busted out a series of obscurities and covers for those few still remaining at three a.m. Here’s one of them, slowly welcoming the early morning hours. [Buy]