That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.
How does an obscure song from the mid-70s, “There’s No Way Out of Here,” receive several million hits on music streaming platforms? Like this: someone adds it to their Pink Floyd playlist or station. Which is entirely fair: the song nestles in quite comfortably between “Comfortably Numb” and “Money,” or any other Floyd standard you can name. Trademark David Gilmour vocal and guitar work? Check. Dire and heavy-handed lyrics? Yep, Roger that. Casual listeners naturally assume it’s a deep cut from The Wall, or Animals, or Wish You Were Here.
But of course it’s not Pink Floyd. Any die-hard Floyd fan will tell you the song is from David Gilmour’s overlooked self-titled solo debut from 1978. Some of those fans will further explain (whether or not you asked) that it’s about Gilmour’s feeling of entrapment with the machinery of major stardom. Or it’s Gilmour’s reflection on the fate of his friend Syd Barrett.
Wait, though: even the well-informed fans often overlook the basic facts: “There’s No Way Out of Here” is not a David Gilmour song either, and it’s not from ’78. The music and lyrics are by Ken Baker, whose band Unicorn recorded it in 1976 for their third album, Too Many Crooks.
No, it’s not quite a Pink Floyd reunion, but both Roger Waters and David Gilmour have – separately – taken to social media in the past week with new cover songs.
It’s a strange circumstance: What has been awful for humanity at large has been pretty good for the world of cover songs. Even we would say that’s a terrible trade-off!
Nevertheless, we’ve been grateful that so many musicians have taken to Facebook, Instagram, etc to share their music and, in many cases, cover favorite songs that are helping get them through. So, for the fourth time and certainly not the last, we’re rounding up some of the best we’ve seen recently and encouraging you to add your own below.
One note: There are some obvious names you won’t see here. John Prine. Bill Withers. Adam Schlesinger. Kenny Rogers. So many wonderful covers are emerging to pay tribute to artists no longer with them that we’ll be rounding them up separately. We did the first set for Prine here.
Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
Fifty years ago today, the Beatles’ best album was released. It can be argued that Sgt. Pepper is their greatest album, and Abbey Road could be considered their most accomplished, but all things considered, nothing is better than Revolver.
Revolver saw three of the Beatles on hot songwriting streaks: John exploring his LSD-infused mind; Paul excelling at each genre he tried; George growing by leaps and bounds. Ringo’s contributions were nothing to sneeze at, either, with his work on “She Said She Said” frequently singled out as some of his best drumming. Let’s not forget producer George Martin and teenaged engineer Geoff Emerick, turning the studio into a laboratory to experiment in.
Combine all these talents at their most creative, innovative, and adventurous, and it’s no wonder Revolver left the rock and roll world frantic with wonder at how they could catch up to this landmark. Half a century later, they’re still wondering.
“Song to the Siren” seems to be one of those songs where every cover is good. 2009 saw ex-Red Hot Chili Pepper guitarist John Frusciante build the Tim Buckley song to psychedelic grandeur. Then in June the Wailing Wall pulled it all back, using banjo and accordion to tell the Odysseus legend. Now Bryan Ferry comes along with his version. You might expect it to be layered and intricate (it is), but you probably wouldn’t expect David Gilmour and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood to play guitar on it (they do).
Stereogum premiered the track yesterday. It also features Ferry’s Roxy Music cohorts Brian Eno, Andy Mackay, and Phil Mananera. Like much of Ferry/Roxy Music’s work, it’s densely produced without losing the emotional core. The track appears on Ferry’s Olympia, out October 26th. Check it out below.