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.
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.“
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.
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.
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.
This past Tuesday Counting Crows singer Adam Duritz announced a new project on the band’s Facebook page. For the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, he would cover one love song a day. He’s four days in and we’ve got ‘em for you below. So far he’s tackled, in order, Steve Earle, Ryan Adams, Tom Waits, and the Cars. Four down, three to go!
Cover News is a weekly feature where I sum up the week’s cover-related news, whether it’s new to the world or just new to me. Anything that doesn’t fit in my regular thematic posts I think my readers would enjoy, be it a youtube video, a blog shout-out, or a cool-looking new release. I also post all the submissions I have gotten from record labels and artists. Send suggestions or submissions to the email address on the right.
This Week’s News
• David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” won this month’s Cover Commissions poll on the right, barely beating out Chumbawamba and Men Without Hats. Look for derpferdheissthorst’s cover in a few weeks. In the meantime, any artists out there who want to participate in the next round, shoot me an email!
• Go-to indie blog news aggregate Stereogum posted plenty of new covers this week. You’ve got Franz Ferdinand’s Britney Spears, No Doubt’s Adam Ant, The Killers’ Bright Eyes, Pattern Is Movement’s Beyoncé, Rivers Cuomo and Rainn Wilson’s Joan Osbourne, and Lemonheads and Liv Tyler’s Leonard Cohen. Enough for ya?
• In more Leonard Cohen news, turns out he’s as sick of “Hallelujah covers as you are. Read about it here, then broaden your horizon by checking out the San Fransisco Chronicle‘s top-ten list of Cohen covers here.
• From Leonard Cohen, we transition smoothly to Britney Spears. Top Ten “Womanizer” covers and remixes thisaway.
• Another pop cover for Kelly Clarkson, plus a reggae “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and the Cure for all that ails ya compiled over at Rolling Stone.
• Speaking of music magazines (could these transitions be any smoother), in November 2005 Wiremagazine compiled a list of its favorite cover songs ever. It goes beyond just a music list though, describing them all in such detail you have to hear them. Luckily someone has compiled a torrent of not just all the covers mentioned, but all the originals as well! 186 songs, each with a description from the magazine. Unfortunately it’s hosted at Demonoid, a private site, but invites are easy to come by. Particularly if you just so happen to post your email address in the comments. Once you’re in, go here. Until then, download the article and see what you’re missing.
• A few new albums of interest released this week. First up is Score! Twenty Years of Merge Records: The Covers, a new comp of artists covering Merge Records classics like Broken Social Scene, Death Cab, Ryan Adams, etc. Indie-tastic. Read a review here.
Jazz crooner Cassandra Wilson is back with some coverage on Closer to You: The Pop Side, with looks at Dylan, Young, and Lauper.
Another new album is James Taylor’s follow-up/companion to last year’s Covers release. This one’s called Other Covers (real creative Jim) and includes his takes on Katy Perry, Snoop Dogg, and Falco. Fine, I’m jklol, but it does have some Tom Waits, so there’s that.
• Jonesing for more Tom Waits? Check out Berkley Place’s Tom Waits covers set here. Particularly recommended: the Cold War Kids’ “Dirt in the Ground.”
• NOFX fans, get excited for a ten-inch release of uncredited hardcore covers. As for the rest of us…next!
• Swedish indie band Love Is All have released a tour-exclusive covers EP of “Swedish classics” (those exist?). Though it’s limited to 200 copies, I’m sure it will hit the interwebs soon. They’re also planning a follow-up of “American classics,” and are soliciting suggestions. Herman’s Hermits medley!! More.
• And finally, in honor of Good Friday, here is a vintage clip of Tenacious D covering Jesus Christ Superstar‘s best track “Heaven on their Minds”.
This Week’s Submissions