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!

As of today, Billy Joel is eligible for Social Security. So, now that his money woes are assuredly a thing of the past, let’s get to celebrating his 65th birthday in the accomplished style he really and truly deserves.
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Every Wednesday, our resident Gleek Eric Garneau gives his take on last night’s Glee covers.

In “The First Time,” McKinley High prepares to open their production of West Side Story, but stars Rachel (Lea Michele) and Blaine (Darren Criss) find themselves full of indecision after musical director Artie (Kevin McHale) suggests they need sexual experience to properly portray their roles.

West Side Story‘s over, and I’m not sure how much there’s left to say about McKinley High’s (really professional-looking) production of the classic musical. I’m really surprised this plot sustained itself over five episodes (with its songs making it into three of the last four), but it seems that for now we’ve seen the last of the West Side. Is that a good thing? Continue reading »

Download This scours the web’s dark corners for cool cover freebies. View past installments.

Billy Joel spent much of the ’80s looking to court music lovers with albums that sounded either retro (An Innocent Man) or ultra-pop (The Bridge, which features a collaboration with Cyndi Lauper). For one glorious record, though, Joel broke from his “piano man” mold. He got angry. He got punk. 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!


Born in 1947, the man christened Reginald Kenneth Dwight has left a stunning mark on popular culture in the last four decades. Over 30 albums, two animated films, two Broadway plays and a host of crazy costumes later, Elton John‘s still standing. Unlike many musicians his age, John’s work output has not slowed, nor has his popularity. Just last year he released a Grammy-nominated album with American singer-songwriter Leon Russell, and he’ll soon embark on a worldwide greatest hits tour. John and his domestic partner David Furnish also recently welcomed a child into their household via surrogate. That lucky little tyke gets to count Lady Gaga as one of his godmothers. Continue reading »

Nov 102010

Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.

The recent release of Easy Wonderful has given Guster fans reason to fall in love with them all over again. As their album title insinuates, they have an agreeable sound that resonates with you and has aged well over the past (almost) 20 years. If the Beach Boys went to college in the 90's, added some bongos, and stayed out of the sun, Guster is what they would sound like.

Featured on soundtracks like Life as a House and Wedding Crashers, their songs can pull at the heartstrings as you croon along with them. On the other hand, they are better known for their laid-back, wisecracking personalities that beam from the stage and infect their fans. During their years of touring, they have taken on many cover songs with both their sensitive and playful dispositions (but mostly the latter). Typically at the end of a show, Guster will rile up the crowd with a number from Madonna, Talking Heads, or whoever sings the “Cheers” theme song (Portnoy) and get everyone involved.  Most of the time, it's just an excuse to get drummer Brian Rosenworcel out in front showing off his questionable vocals, calling in the crowd for backup.  It's just like being at a karaoke bar. Continue reading »

Every Wednesday, our resident Gleek Eric Garneau gives his take on last night’s Glee covers.

Why do a feature on Glee?

Well, for one, it’s an insanely popular show. Second, and more importantly, Glee is pop culture’s number one source for cover music right now. It’s kind of sneaky about that fact; few people, if any, talk about the music of Glee as cover tunes, but that’s precisely what they are. Often the show’s performances don’t do much in the way of altering the original song as covers typically do, but sometimes they can surprise us. Regardless, I think it’s interesting to look at those performances: why the show chooses a particular song, how the arrangement differs (if at all), etc.

So it is that each Wednesday I’ll be doing a rundown of every track Glee covered that week, delving a little into the history of the original track and talking about how the Glee version relates. I suspect a lot of people who watch the show are introduced to a few new songs every episode (even a music nerd like me had never heard “Papa Can You Hear Me?” prior to last night — a crime, I know), but I also think that people really into music but not big Glee fans might enjoy seeing some fresh performances and reinterpretations of favorite songs. In short, I think this feature has something for everyone, and I hope you agree! Continue reading »

The first post of the month always features covers of every track on a famous album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!


Despite the fact that he had already released songs like “Piano Man,” “New York State of Mind” and “The Entertainer,” it took Billy Joel until his fifth album to hit the big time. After The Stranger hit in 1977 though, weddings were never the same again.

The Pale Pacific – Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)
One of the all-time great rock stutters gets an appropriately full-volume delivery by some Seattle indie vets. [Buy]

Lowtide – The Stranger
Lowtide’s MySpace page describes them as “the musical equivalent of a computer virus,” which is pretty accurate. They didn’t seem to bother learning the real words here, so it’s viral in every sense of the word: unexpected, annoying, and infectious. [Buy]

Alex D’Castro – Just the Way You Are
Billy Joel is as sick of this dreck as you are. “I feel hypocritical [playing this song],” he told the New York Times a few years ago. “I divorced the woman I wrote it for.” Perhaps he should revert to the less schmaltzy version he sang for Oscar the Grouch in the ‘70s. Or perhaps he should check out with swinging salsa version. [Buy]

Titta and Trombetta – Scenes from an Italian Restaurant
Any Billy Joel cover that doesn’t employ a lick of piano deserves props, particularly if it’s substituted with a double-acoustic guitar jam. [Buy]

Ingrid Graudins – Vienna
Billy Joel has listed “Vienna” as one of his two personal favorites (the other being “Summer, Highland Falls”). It’s certainly among his most personal, detailing the time while on a trip to see his estranged Austria-dwelling father he saw a 90-year old woman sweeping the street and realized how much America abandons the elderly. “I thought ‘This is a terrific idea – that old people are useful -and that means I don’t have to worry so much about getting old because I can still have a use in this world in my old age,’” he said years later. “I thought ‘Vienna waits for you…’” [Buy]

After the Fall – Only the Good Die Young
Insert joke about Billy Joel being old here… [Buy]

The Diamond Family Archive – She’s Always a Woman
A song that puts the “z” in “cheeze,” “She’s Always a Woman” gets a surprisingly sensitive treatment from these banjo-and-mandolin folkies. And listening to that voice, you’ll want to be the woman he’s singing about. [Buy]

Kool T – Get It Right the First Time
Last November one website sponsored a Billy Joel beat-making contest where would-be DJs could only use sounds from the original tapes of this and “Stiletto.” Most are exactly as terrible as you might expect, but Kool T took a few hooks from “Get It Right” and created something almost unrecognizable. It’s technically a remix I suppose, but you find me a decent cover of this song and we’ll talk. [Buy]

The Manhattans – Everybody Has a Dream
The Stranger ends with this quiet gospel-tinged number, but these Philly soul sensations blew it wide open in a 1978 single that went to #65 on the R&B charts. [Buy]

NYC (and SOS)

Posted by Ray Padgett at 10:28 pm No Responses »
Jun 182009

Edit: All files are back up for now.

It’s a time of transitions here at Cover Me. For one, box.net is getting fed up with the bandwidth we’re using (though they advertised it as “unlimited), so I need to find another place to host the songs. Anyone with experience have any suggestions, either another hosting site or my own domain name? We’re going for cheap here, but with lots of bandwidth. If I could migrate everything over from box.net that would be ideal; otherwise there will be a whole lot of dead links come July 1st. This thing’s not dead yet but readers, I need your help! Post a comment or email me at covers86{at}gmail{dot}com if you can offer assistance.

Also some personal transitions going on. For one, I graduated school on Sunday (hence my absence from here) and am headed to start interning for Spin music magazine in New York. To celebrate my new locale, here are some tunes about the city that swings.

Tea – Summer In the City (The Lovin’ Spoonful)
I guess there’s nothing in this song that makes it specifically about New York City, but could it really be anywhere else? One tune that never disappoints when it comes on oldies radio, Tea’s take amps up the funky swagger with plenty of horns and guitar-ing. [Buy]

Pete Yorn – New York City Serenade (Bruce Springsteen)
Pete Yorn is one of those musicians I’m not real familiar with, but about whom I just think “blech.” Associations with James Blunt or something. Which is probably unfair as this cover, the only thing I have by him, is excellent, breaking down one of Bruce’s most musically complex songs into a simple story. [Buy]

Gov’t Mule – Down and Out in New York City (James Brown)
A jam band for those who don’t like jam bands, Gov’t Mule grooves out on their excellent The Deep End Vol. 1. Screw Clapton; Warren Haynes is God. [Buy]

Kid Harpoon – First We Take Manhattan (Leonard Cohen)
I posted this one in my very first post here, so needless to say it’s been unavailable for quite a while. The Kid busts out one of my favorite Lenny covers in this frenetic attack of an acoustic jam. [Buy]

Nekked – The Boxer (Simon and Garfunkel)
A little bit of laptop-funk from this well-named crew, adding in blips and thumps that never threaten to obscure the pretty harmonies. Very different than the original, yet totally true to it. [Buy]

Tufts Beelzebubs – City of Blinding Lights (U2)
I recognize that a cappella’s a love-it-or-hate-it genre, but if you have any inclination towards that collegiate sound you should snatch 2008’s Pandaemonium, which won basically every a cappella award there is to win (including best album). [Buy]

Waitswatcher – Bronx Lullaby (Tom Waits)
Tom at his jazziest, Pascal Fricke adds a sweet female voice to his usual instrument, baring the song’s soul with some nylon-stringed plucking. To quote from another of Waits’ songs, “a little trip to heaven.” Enjoy this take, then watch Tom himself do it. [Buy]

Razorlight – Englishman in New York (Sting)
Sting purportedly wrote this tune about gay icon Quentin Crisp. The rest of the story’s in the song. [Buy]

Dion – Spanish Harlem Incident (Bob Dylan)
You probably know this “…and the Belmonts” singer from ‘60s hits like “Runaround Sue” and “A Teenager in Love,” but this more obscure gem takes a simple Dylan acoustic number and really makes it feel like Spanish Harlem. Fun fact: on his 1999 co-headlining tour with Paul Simon, Dylan covered Dion’s “The Wanderer” eleven times with Paul. [Buy]

My Morning Jacket – Across 110th Street (Bobby Womack)
I missed Bonnaroo for the first time in a few years this past weekend (stupid graduation). Luckily I was there to catch this last year, busted out during the Jacket’s three-plus hour midnight set in the pouring rain. Epic. [Buy]

Brian Chartrand – New York State of Mind (Billy Joel)
Chartrand’s partial cover disc Sleeping With Giants proved tough to track down, but it was worth the wait. Instead of overly emoting this crooney number like so many schlock lounge singers do, he swings it along with some funky picking. And don’t say he’s not versatile; on this same album he also covers Justin Timberlake and Lauryn Hill. [Buy]

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