Nov 082016
 
ThomasJeffersonViolin

When we last did an election-themed post, we wrote “this damn election continues to never end”. That was in August of 2008. How naive we were then. As this latest round finally limps to a close today, we wanted to put together a cover-song soundtrack to take with you to the polls. To that end, we’ve compiled our 11 favorite covers of campaign theme songs.

Campaign theme songs used to be far better than they are now. Up until the 20th century, candidates would use songs written specifically for them, from James Madison’s “Huzzah for Madison, Huzzah” to James K. Polk’s “Jimmy Polk of Tennessee.” The best remembered is probably William Henry Harrison’s “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too,” a song proved more influential than his actual presidency, which lasted a month before he died in office. Sometimes these theme songs were just rewritten versions of popular songs (“Hello Dolly” becomes “Hello Lyndon”, “My Kind of Town Chicago Is” becomes “My Kind of Guy Dukakis Is”), but even still at least some effort was being made to come up with original lyrics.

Sadly, those days have ended. Now candidates choose from a handful of already-popular songs that vaguely embody their message. Hillary Clinton’s been using Katy Perry’s “Roar” a lot this time around, which Donald Trump leans on Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” after just about every other musician filed cease and desist letters (they eventually did too). No matter your politics, the move away from jolly songs about a particular candidate is a bummer. We’d definitely get behind a platform of “Make Campaign Theme Songs Great Again.”

In lieu of that, we’ve made a playlist celebrating campaign songs past and present. We could only find so many covers of the older candidate-specific songs – they don’t age well, particularly if the candidate is a loser (artists are not lining up to cover “Go with Goldwater”) – so we padded it out with some more recent campaign theme songs you might actually know. Go vote, and bring this soundtrack with you. Continue reading »

Mar 092009
 

Fleetwood Mac’s songs sometimes get a bad rap from constant play in elevators, grocery stores, and on “lite rock” radio. Try to forget the soulless environments in which these tunes sometimes find themselves, and you’ll remember that each one is a pop gem, little nuggets from a band at their prime just as they were falling apart. Stevie Nicks hitting that bridge on “The Chain,” the mystical guitar plucking of “Never Going Back Again,” the pounding drums propelling “Go Your Own Way” into that furious crescendo of a guitar solo…the magical moments are just too many to name. The originals can’t be improved upon, but they can be reworked. See for yourself.

The Greencards – Second Hand News
One of Australia’s most acclaimed bluegrass groups, The ‘Cards make Fleetwood Mac sound shockingly logical as bluegrass and singer Carol Young has the voice to do Stevie Nicks/Christine McVie justice. It’s not til the fiddle breakdown at the end though that this group really bursts forth. [Buy]

The Morning Benders – Dreams
After releasing The Bedroom Covers as a freebie to promote their album Talking Through Tin Cans, these guys have showed up here a couple times already (click their name on the long list on the right to hear more). This Berkeley foursome’s breathy harmonies bring power to this slow burner. [Buy]

Grumpy Bear – Never Going Back Again
The Fleetwood original has one of the greatest finger picking pop lines ever, but Grumpy Bear counters with some new picking all their own. They rearrange the cadence, the lyrics, and the rhythm, but remain true to the essence. And if you hear this and think, the only thing that could make this better is a little Donovan…you just might be in luck. [Buy]

Darren Hanlon – Don’t Stop
Solo acoustic guitar…meh. Solo ukulele? Now that’s something I can get behind. Hanlon busted this out for an Australian radio station a few years back and it rocks…in a ukulele sort of way. [Buy]

Snow & Voices – Go Your Own Way
Most of these covers play with the instruments, the sound, the timbre, but keep the general melody and feel the same. Not so with Snow & Voices. They slow this pop song to a dirge-like crawl that brings out the heartbreak in the lyrics. The original sounded like someone trying to put on a positive face; in this one, the singer has succumbed to the despair of lost love. [Buy]

Denison Witmer – Songbird
Cover guru Witmer strips it down to some acoustic guitar, instrumental flourishes, and his Americana-sweet voice. Catch a few more covers of this one over at Cover Lay Down. [Buy]

Throwback – The Chain
A live one here, a loose rocker that doesn’t lose the classic harmonies of the original. It doesn’t really break out ‘til the funk guitar solo that builds right into the bridge. I wonder if the folks at Café Dekcuf appreciated what they were getting. [Buy]

Cyndi Lauper – You Make Loving Fun
God, it’s so 80’s! This was actually Lauper’s first single, a foreshadowing of the “fun” theme she would pursue down the road. The wall of synthesizers may be a little much, but I’m a big fan of that sax solo. [Buy]

Goo Goo Dolls – I Don’t Wanna Know
I’ll admit, the Goo Goo Dolls remind me of the worst of late 90’s rock radio. Their alt-rock-for-middle-schoolers sound works well enough with this tune, and makes for a nice change of pace from the many folk/jazz covers. [Buy]

Tallulah – Oh Daddy
I’ll admit it here: I’m not the first one to come up with this idea. Legacy: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours already exists and is, I must say, quite good. Even among such worthy competition as Elton John and The Cranberries, this space-echo throb of a plea shines forth as a unique interpretation that sounds not-quite pop, not-quite-gothic, not-quite-dance, and many other genres it almost fits. [Buy]

Waylon Jennings – Gold Dust Woman
It comes from 1978’s Waylon & Willie album, but this one’s all Jennings. Classic outlaw country, it’s manages to stay faithful to the original while sounding nothing like it. [Buy]