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!

Forty-six years old. In some ways, it’s hard to believe that Jeff Tweedy, the songwriting genius behind Wilco, has hit his late forties. On the other hand, think back, way back through his recorded output. When Wilco released their first album 18 years ago, Tweedy was already a groundbreaker, having co-founded Uncle Tupelo with Jay Farrar eight years earlier. Together, they practically invented the genre of alt-country before their acrimonious split, when Tweedy was just 26 years old.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Tweedy assembled Wilco out of the ashes of Tupelo’s touring band and slowly built a following. The band teetered on the edge of disaster when they presented their masterpiece Yankee Hotel Foxtrot to their label, only to have it rejected. Instead of going back into the studio to record a boy-band album or whatever the hell the label wanted, they bought the master tapes back and walked. Eventually they signed to a subsidiary of the same company (go figure), and the album came out and went gold. From there on, Tweedy & Company have continued to push the sonic envelope and remain just as vital as ever.
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Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.

Here at Cover Me Q&A, we’ll be taking questions about cover songs and giving as many different answers as we can. This will give us a chance to hold forth on covers we might not otherwise get to talk about, to give Cover Me readers a chance to learn more about individual staffers’ tastes and writing styles, and to provide an opportunity for some back-and-forth, as we’ll be taking requests (learn how to do so at feature’s end).

Today’s question: What’s a song you hated until you heard it covered?

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When a band hasn’t released a studio album of new music in four years, and then puts out an album made up entirely of cover songs, you might expect their fans to get restless. For Counting Crows fans, though, Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation) is no less sweet because the band didn’t write the songs. Lead singer Adam Duritz and the gang have been doing covers, in full or sneakily added as bridges in live shows, since their inception. And, as Duritz says in the liner notes, “I’ve never stopped being a fan” of other people’s music. Continue reading »

Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows has long worn his influences on his sleeve, and the band often does live covers of their favorite artists. If you are an aspiring artist, head over to Indabamusic where you have until March 1st to submit your own Counting Crows cover for the chance at a signed Squier guitar, $600 to Guitar Center, and inclusion of your song on an EP. If you’re not into making music, you can head over and start listening to the submissions. Cover Me veteran Allison Crowe has already submitted a stunning version of “Raining in Baltimore. Continue reading »

Counting Crows‘ 1999 cut “Colorblind” demonstrates everything lead singer Adam Duritz can do when he’s at his best: beautiful and depressing minor key melodies worthy of Elliott Smith, and the lyricism of Bob Dylan (not to say Smith was a slouch when it came to lyrics). Chicago producer Dexter Tortoriello, who works under the pseudonym Dawn Golden and Rosy Cross, just released a cover of the Crows song. Continue reading »

Back in February, Counting Crows singer Adam Duritz announced that he would cover one love song a day during the week leading up to Valentine’s Day. One of those songs, The Cars “You Might Think,” was so compelling that Duritz’s family asked him to make a video for it. One of Duritz’s filmmaking friends, actor Clifton Collins Jr., obliged. Continue reading »

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

Oh mama, can this really be the end? After one heck of a week, we reach the finale today. This last set of 50+ covers makes it official: Cover Me now includes covers of every single Bob Dylan song, in alphabetical order. 279 songs in 50-60 song chunks. It’s never been done before and, given how much work it took, it probably won’t be again (at least not by us).

We’re not sure if this last set is the best of the bunch, but it’s up there. From Jimi Hendrix’s just-unearthed “Tears of Rage” to Elliott Smith’s transcendent “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” there’s a lot to love here. So join us in our final celebration of Dylan’s birthday with one more cup of covers. Once again, happy birthday Bob.

Sidebar: We’re guessing you maybe fell behind on a song or two these past four days. After all, listening to these all would take more than 15 hours. So here are links to the full set for you to peruse this weekend.
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”

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In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

Counting Crows have a tough gig. They are lumped in with mainstream music, earning them disdain from the hipster crowd, yet they haven’t had a Billboard hit since 2004. Lots of folks like them (they have 200,000 more “likes” on Facebook than our last In the Spotlight artist, LCD Soundsystem) but it seems hard to find many people listing the Crows as one of their all-time favorites – or at least admitting to it. Continue reading »

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