1989 was a crucial time in my musical education. At age 11, I was several months into taking drum lessons when my teacher asked me a loaded question: “What drummers do you listen to?” Given that it was the ‘80s and I was deeply enthralled with metal, I rattled off a list of big-haired, double-bass drum playing thunder gods, including Anthrax’s Charlie Benante. My teacher, in what was likely a well-rehearsed speech, quickly rattled off a list of drummers I should be listening to including: Neil Peart of Rush, Bill Bruford of Yes, session drummer Steve Gadd and jazz masters Billy Cobham and Art Blakey. All great drummers, who I’ve been listening to for years – the fact that I can still rattle off the list 31 years after the fact is telling.
Amy Helm – Twilight (The Band cover)
Every week the names doing these covers from home just get bigger. This past week got a boost from Global Citizen’s all-star charity event, from which several of today’s set come, as well as one major appearance in last night’s Jersey for Jersey fundraiser (Fountains of Wayne’s heartbreaking “Hackensack” from that is worth watching too, though, except for guest bassist Sharon Van Etten, it’s not a cover).
But, amidst the all-stars, musicians at every level continue to take to the internet to perform covers. We’ve got some of the best we’ve seen below. As always, we make no claims to being comprehensive, so share any other favorites in the comments.
There’s a great Prince quote from back in the day that perfectly encapsulates why he was so special: “I never wanted to fit in with my music, whatever the trend was, I usually went in the opposite direction.” And while Prince was a singularly spectacular and unprecedented talent, it is reassuring to know that that a bit of that same spirit and philosophy lives on, within arguably the biggest pop star of right now, Billie Eilish. Which is to say, the further she travels in the other direction, the better she gets.
That extends to her choices in cover songs which can be kind of offbeat. For Global Citizen’s recent One World: Together At Home concert event she and her brother-slash-musical partner Finneas chose to perform a song that, while born out of tragedy, was built to uplift, Bobby Hebb’s eternal classic from 1966, “Sunny.”
Adam Green – All Hell Breaks Loose (Misfits cover)
Misfits go mariachi! Adam Green, best known as one half of the Moldy Peaches, plays “All Hell Breaks Loose” like it was “Ring of Fire.” He writes: “In The Misfits and in his glorious solo work, Danzig bridged punk and metal with the blue-eyed soul music of the mid-1960’s like The Righteous Brothers and The Walker Brothers. I’d had an idea for a while to do a Scott Walker / John Franz style production at punk speeds, and the Misfits song ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’ seemed like the perfect vessel for the experiment.”
Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
Billie Eilish’s debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? came out just one year ago today. It seems like much longer. Her success now spans from Gen Z to boomers; she’s become omnipresent on every channel of the internet while also scoring the old-music-biz coup of sweeping the four top categories of the Grammys – the first person to do so since Christopher Cross in 1981.