Jun 052012
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

How did you spend your month of May? For Bob Dylan, it was another ho-hum month – turn 71, have new biography about him published, get the Presidential Medal of Freedom…

We’ve given Dylan plenty of virtual ink on his previous birthdays (A-Z, anyone?), so our first thought was to give it a rest for just one year. But the man’s talent, and the nation’s continuing recognition of it (not to mention our own fandom), simply could not be denied. So here’s one more small tip of the hat to an American treasure, saluting an earlier song that’s as carefully constructed – and as perfect – as a Faberge egg. Continue reading »

May 262011
 

Dylan Covers A-Z presents covers of every single Bob Dylan song. View the full series here.

An excerpt from Bob Dylan’s Chronicles: Volume One (Simon & Schuster, 2004):

When I finally did arrive in California, my songs and my reputation had preceded me. I had records out on Columbia and I’d be playing at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and meeting all the performers who had recorded my songs-artists like The Byrds, who’d recorded “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Sonny and Cher, who’d done “All I Really Want to Do,” The Turtles, who recorded “It Ain’t Me, Babe,” Glen Campbell, who had released “Don’t Think Twice,” and Johnny Rivers, who had recorded “Positively 4th Street.”

Of all the versions of my recorded songs, the Johnny Rivers one was my favorite. It was obvious that we were from the same side of town, had been read the same citations, came from the same musical family and were cut from the same cloth. When I listened to Johnny’s version of “Positively 4th Street,” I liked his version better than mine. I listened to it over and over again. Most of the cover versions of my songs seemed to take them out into left field somewhere, but Rivers’s version had the mandate down-the attitude and melodic sense to complete and surpass even the feeling that I had put into it. It shouldn’t have surprised me, though. He had done the same thing with “Maybellene” and “Memphis,” two Chuck Berry songs. When I heard Johnny sing my song, it was obvious that life had the same external grip on him as it did on me.

Yes, today’s installment boasts a special distinction: It contain Dylan’s favorite cover of his own work. Rivers’ “Positively 4th Street” is indeed spellbinding. We’d venture that if Bob heard some of these other covers, though, he might have to reconsider. The Ghosts of Electricity’s 11-minute “Standing in a Doorway” takes a live jam to the stratosphere. Guy Davis’ “Sweetheart Like You” is so beautiful it redeems all of Dylan’s output in the ’80s (well, almost). If nothing else, John Doe (of X)’s soaring “Pressing On” from the I’m Not There film would surely be a contender.

We’ve also got a few of those “left field” covers he apparently disdains. Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Subterranean Homesick Blues” roars even harder than he ever intended. World Wide Message Tribe’s “Precious Angel” takes the holy message to the club floor. Cheap Trick’s 10-minutes “Please Mrs. Henry” doesn’t sound much like it did with the Band in that Woodstock basement. Check out these and dozens more on the next few pages and see if you agree with Dylan that Rivers tops the lot.

P.S. After you’ve reached your verdict, you might also compare it to the 170 covers we’ve presented in previous installments, linked here:
Part 1: “Absolutely Sweet Marie” – “Everything Is Broken”
Part 2: “Father of Night” – “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”
Part 3: “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” – “Oxford Town”
Part 4: “Peggy Day” – “Sweetheart Like You”
Part 5: “T.V Talkin’ Song” – “4th Time Around” [Coming Friday]

Continued on Page 2…

May 242011
 

Dylan Covers A-Z presents covers of every single Bob Dylan song. View the full series here.

We began our celebrations yesterday, but today, in fact, is the big day. On May 24th, 1941, Bob Dylan was born at St. Mary’s Hospital in Duluth, Minnesota. Twenty-one years later he released his first album and ever since…well, you know.

We continue our week-long series presenting covers of every single Dylan song with “Father of Night,” one of several Dylan songs that Manfred Mann rescued from obscurity. From there we hit songs by Jeff Buckley, The White Stripes, George Harrison, and, oh, about 54 more. Hours of music, and we’re not even halfway done! Continue reading »

May 232011
 

Dylan Covers A-Z presents covers of every single Bob Dylan song. View the full series here.

Bob Dylan turns 70 tomorrow. We pondered long and hard how to celebrate. This seemed to us deserving of more than the usual They Say It’s Your Birthday collection, and we knew we could do better than another Best Dylan Covers list. We wanted to do something truly special.

So we’re celebrating Dylan’s birthday this week by doing something no one’s ever done before: compiling covers of every single Bob Dylan song. If he released it on a regular studio album, we’ve got it, for a grand total of 279 songs.* Our entire staff has dug deep to find the hidden gems alongside the classics. We’ve got your “Ballad of a Thin Man” and “Tangled Up in Blue,” sure, but we’ve also got your “Cat’s in the Well” and “Po’ Boy.” Heck – we’ve even got the Jesus stuff! Continue reading »

Apr 282010
 

It seems every week a new “Best Dylan Covers Ever” article surfaces, but each new list reads much like the last.  Hendrix tops it (fair enough) and Peter, Paul and Mary and the Byrds follow behind (really?).  At Cover Me we like to break out of the mold though, so let us present the second and final installment of The Best Dylan Covers You’ve (Probably) Never Heard.  This week we tackle songs Dylan recorded after his fabled 1966 motorcycle crash.

Barb Jungr – Things Have Changed
Dylan’s past few albums signaled a comeback, the legendary songwriter finally matching his sharp songwriting with smart production.  His greatest song since the ‘70s can’t be found on them though, but rather as an Oscar-winning one-off for the Wonder Boys soundtrack.  [Buy]

World Wide Message Tribe – Precious Angel
True, Dylan’s widely reviled born-again period inspired a lot of Armageddon preaching from the stage, but it also sewed the seeds of the most successful dance cover of a Dylan tune to date.  [Buy]

Giant Sand – All Along the Watchtower
Once the most recognizable three chords in rock hit, Giant Sand deliver a somewhat conventional cover.  But it takes sixty seconds of cello feedback to get there.  [Buy]

Elliott Murphy – Blind Willie McTell
Mark this one as one of the best live covers of all time.  Discoveries like this utterly brilliant acoustic duet reward obsessive bootleg collectors.  [Buy]

The Everly Brothers – Abandoned Love
Dylan recorded this song in 1975, but it didn’t see official release until a mediocre studio recording on 1985’s Biograph collection (track down his 1975 live version at the Bitter End for the definitive reading).  That fantastic chord progression makes it a cover favorite, with everyone from George Harrison to Chuck Prophet having a go.  [Buy]

Townes Van Zandt – Man Gave Names to All the Animals
Many fans would rank this song up with the worst songs Dylan has ever written.  And it would be, except for that final line that turns all the nursery rhyme verses on their head.  Dylan’s least ambitious Christian song may just be his most powerful.  [Buy]

Thea Gilmore – I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine
Gilmore turns up on just about every covers CD Britain’s Uncut magazine compiles, delivering superb performances of The Clash and the Boss.  This artist boasts some serious folk cred though; Joan Baez hand-picked her to open a tour and covered Gilmore’s “The Lower Road” on her latest album.  [Buy]

Delta Cross Band – Legionnaire’s Disease
What, you don’t know “Legionnaire’s Disease”?  Well, a recording of Dylan performing it has never surfaced.  Written after a 1976 outbreak of the infectious bacteria known technically as Legionellosis, Dylan handed it off to Billy Cross, his guitar player from 1977-79.  [Buy]

Richie Havens – License to Kill
Havens has spent his career covering Dylan — witness his cameo in I’m Not There.  His signature guitar tuning and strumming pattern takes the fore, laying the weight of the world upon a mediocre lyric.  [Buy]

Tim O’Brien – Father of Night
O’Brien’s Red on Blonde covers album is one of the best out there, giving tunes from the famous (“Forever Young”) to the obscure (“Lay Down Your Weary Tune”) jaunty bluegrass rhythms.  [Buy]

Read Part 1: Before the Crash.

Jan 212009
 

–Edit: Lots of posts disappearing from blogger. I’m reposting this one with links since it was so recent, but the others will be sadly link-less.–

An exciting day tomorrow. I don’t even remember what it’s like to have a government I trust, so it’ll be nice to see old G-Dubs head back to Crawford. Here’s hoping that Obama and co. can get this country back on the road to peace, justice, and compassion.

Elliott Murphy – Better Days (Bruce Springsteen)
One of Springsteen’s better songs from his stagnant period with the “Other Band” in the early 90’s. He often joked that after decades of songs about the down-and-out, when he finally wrote some happy songs, everyone turned away. Sounds like he’s back to positivity with next week’s Working On a Dream though. We’ll see how that pans out. [Buy]

Sanctus Real – Beautiful Day (U2)
U2’s Christian roots are widely known, though one would be amiss to call them “Christian rock.” In fact, most Christian radio stations will play covers of U2 songs, but not the originals. In that case, they might play this one, from an all-Christian rock cover disc to U2 released for charity. Sanctus Real crunchifies this recent cut, keeping it just stadium-ready enough at the chorus. [Buy]

Ellen McIlwaine – Higher Ground (Stevie Wonder)
The third in our string of Inaugural performers is the most relevant; this is actually the song Wonder chose to perform yesterday with Usher and Shakira (video). Originally a classic soul stomp, McIlwaine’s funky blues guitar takes it a completely different direction. [Buy]

Pearl Jam – People Have the Power (Patti Smith)
It’s a popular song for the politically-conscious artist to take on, be it Bruce Springsteen or U2. At a live show in ’03 Eddie Vedder propelled the band through this grunge-rock growl of an anthem. You can see him perform it with Smith herself here. [Buy]

Status Quo – Getting Better (The Beatles)
A cut from Sgt. Pepper’s getting even more orchestral and layered? Not possible you say? The Quo is here to tell you different. With strings, horns, and glockenspiel, the sound matches the optimism. [Buy]

Doyle Bramhall – I Can See Clearly Now (Johnny Nash)
It’s a hell of a song, but most versions of this soul classic sound about the same. Not true of Bramhall’s blues rocker, copious guitar work embellishing the joy in his voice. [Buy]

Cold War Kids – A Change Is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke)
It’s a live one, from a set at Bonnaroo ’07 at which they also covered the much more pessimistic “Dirt in the Ground” by Tom Waits. This one’s been cited a lot recently, first in Obama’s Grant Park acceptance speech in which he said “It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.” [Buy]

Barb Jungr – Things Have Changed (Bob Dylan)
Jungr’s a perennial Dylan cover artist, bringing a dark cabaret to Bob’s Oscar-winning theme for Wonderboys, arguably the best song he’s written in the last twenty years. [Buy]

Floyd Dixon – Blue Skies (Tom Waits)
Nope, this isn’t the Irving Berlin song of the same name (though that would have been a good choice too), but a very early Waits songs that he never saw fit to put on an album. A shame, because this tale of moving beyond hardship is beautiful. The guys knows he has a long way to go to be happy again, but he’s willing to try. It’s a good metaphor for America these days actually. [Buy]

Bob Dylan – This Land Is Your Land (Woody Guthrie)
Pete Seeger and Springsteen sang this one at the Inauguration concert and, fun as that was, it didn’t reinvent the song like Bob did at a 1963 show. Toying with the melody as is his wont, Dylan doesn’t let reverence to his idol interfere with a fresh interpretation. Woody would have been proud. [Buy]