Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.
Jaime Joshi lives in South Florida amidst geckos, 24-hour Cuban coffee and soup-like humidity. She has been writing for Cover Me since 2013; of all her pieces, she is particularly proud of her pieces on Bruce Springsteen and Madonna. (She’s the one on the right.) Continue reading »
In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.
The 27 Club is one of the most enduring legends of rock and roll apocrypha, and although the member list is distinguished, no one’s really clawing to get in. It refers to the peculiarly high number of prominent musicians who died at the age of 27 – blues legend Robert Johnson, Jim Morrison, Big Star’s Chris Bell, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stones founding member Brian Jones, and Kurt Cobain, amongst (too) many others.
In 2011, the club expanded its membership yet again with blue-eyed soul ingénue, Amy Winehouse. Continue reading »
Fifty years ago, a covers album wasn’t called a “covers album.” It was called an album. Full stop.
Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Billie Holiday – most albums anyone bought were “covers albums” as we’d think of them today, but that’s not how folks thought of them then. Once the public began putting a premium on singers writing their own songs in the ’60s the concept of course shifted, so that an artist doing a covers album has to be like Michael Jordan playing baseball – an okay diversion but let’s get back to the main event please.
More so this year than ever before though, that pendulum seems to be swinging back in small but meaningful ways to what an album originally meant. More and more artists are releasing LPs saying, this is not my new quote-on-quote “covers album,” this is my new album (that happens to consist of covers). The attitude showcases a confidence and surety of purpose that shows they take performing other peoples songs every bit as seriously as they do their own.
That holds true for both of our top two covers albums this year, and plenty more sprinkled throughout. Which isn’t to knock anyone doing a covers album as a lark, novelty, tribute, or side project – you’ll see plenty of those here as well – but any blurred lines that put a “covers album” on the same level as a “normal” album have to be a good thing.
The music of Mark Kozelek, whether made with his former band Red House Painters, under his own name, or as Sun Kil Moon, has been described many ways: dreamy, melancholic, and wistful come to mind. With the release of his newest covers album, Like Rats, you can add creepy to the list. The songs he’s picked to cover have lyrics that are alternately menacing and depressing, either overtly or because they’ve been stripped of their accompanying upbeat music. Kozelek has never shied away from darker themes in his music: the yearning loss in RHP’s “Michael,” death and loneliness (and maybe serial killers?) in SKM’s “Glenn Tipton,” regret and self-pity in his cover of John Denver’s “I’m Sorry.” Kozelek’s voice often soars over the intricate guitars, though, and its sweetness lends the songs a faint glimmer of hope. But on “Like Rats,” he sings a register lower than usual (more on that decision later) and piles dark song upon dark song until the listener is off-balance from the assault of negativity. The album is barely 30 minutes in length, and anything more might be too much.Continue reading »
At last night’s MTV Video Music Awards, the specter of Amy Winehouse loomed large. Russell Brand and Tony Bennett (with whom Winehouse recorded her final performance) gave eulogies and Adele, who admits she couldn’t have succeeded without Winehouse coming first, knocked the audience out with a soulful “Someone Like You.” The most official tribute came in the form of Bruno Mars, covering “Valerie” with his suit-wearing, high-stepping soul band.Continue reading »
Think of two words you associate with producer-turned-chart-topper Bruno Mars. I’ll go out on a limb and assume you didn’t choose “Russian fingerpicker.” But those are the best words to describe Igor Presnyakov, the classically trained guitarist who had racked up millions of YouTube views with his instrumental covers of artists from Lady Gaga to Pink Floyd.Continue reading »