Nov 172017
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

It’s hard to comprehend that Jeff Buckley should be 51 years old today. He’s forever frozen in our mind’s eye, no older than 30 (still, a couple years older than his father Tim got to be), at the peak of his beauty and talent. These days he’s best known for a cover song (three guesses which one, first two don’t count), but he was no slouch with a pen himself – “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over,” from Grace, was less a breakup ballad than a broken-up ballad, one that showcased remarkable imagery and a truly painful longing just as surely as it showcased Buckley’s remarkable voice.

“Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” gets a lot of covers from YouTube artists, most of them determined to follow in Buckley’s footsteps; this leads to such faithfulness that the covers tend to have a sameness to them, no matter how expressive the performer. But a few manage to break free from Buckley’s binds…

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Feb 152017
 

Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.

Mike Pic_

Mike is back in his hometown of Cleveland after many years away. His return was not necessarily the reason the Cavs won the NBA finals, but it hasn’t been ruled out. He’s been writing his essays for Cover Me since 2011, 4 states ago. He still thinks the Counting Crows do a damn fine cover and he loved being part of the crew that got to find the best Bob Dylan covers for Dylan’s 70th birthday.
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Mar 222016
 

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“Any time I take a cover and wear it on my sleeve, it’s because it had something good to do with my life and still marks a time in my life when I needed that song more than ever.” – Jeff Buckley

You and I is a posthumously released collection of ten songs (eight of which are covers) Jeff Buckley chose as a showcase for Columbia Records in 1993. They have lived in the vaults of Columbia Records for the past twenty-three years. Up until the point of these recordings, Buckley’s career was that of a cover artist, gradually working on his own material, performing often at venues in Lower Manhattan, such as Sin-é. Despite vast interest, Buckley was apprehensive about signing with a record label. Eventually he signed with Columbia and recorded what would be his only studio album, the otherworldly Grace, in 1994. An album David Bowie chose as a desert island album, an album whose release saw Bob Dylan knighting Buckley as  “one of the great song writers of this decade,” and an album that convinced Rolling Stone that Buckley was one of the greatest singers of all time.

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Jun 202014
 

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

Astral Weeks, insofar as it can be pinned down, is a record about people stunned by life, completely overwhelmed, stalled in their skins, their ages and selves, paralyzed by the enormity of what in one moment of vision they can comprehend. — Lester Bangs, 1979

I was so shocked when I was teaching a seminar at Princeton just a couple years ago, and out of 16 students, four of them said their favorite album was Astral Weeks. Now, how did it enter their lives? We’re talking about an album that was recorded well before they were born, and yet it spoke to them. They understood its language as soon as they heard it. — Greil Marcus, 2009

To paraphrase the singer of “Sweet Thing,” Astral Weeks is dynamite and we don’t know why. The album Van Morrison created in his early twenties has detonated in more psyches than thousands of better known works, but when its biggest fans try to explain its greatness, more often than not, their tongues get tied every time they try to speak.
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Jan 242014
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Between Superfriends and Scooby-Do, Schoolhouse Rock taught ’70s children their parts of speech, times tables, historical events, and more. Those lessons were set to catchy tunes that stuck like flypaper in a honey jar, still well known today to people who saw them forty years ago. The most memorable of the word-based songs was probably “Conjunction Junction,” while “I’m Just a Bill” takes the prize for the history set. When it comes to numbers, it’s hard to debate that any Schoolhouse Rock song has had a more lasting influence than “Three Is A Magic Number.”
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Mar 302012
 

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

Millions of words, if not tens of millions, have been written about Bob Dylan‘s Blonde on Blonde since its 1966 release – how “the quintessential New York hipster” (as Al Kooper called him) met the cream of the Nashville session musician crop and the alchemy that resulted; how the album, Dylan’s third in fourteen months, saw him at the pinnacle of his songwriting powers, marrying surreal imagery to wrenching emotion with lyrics that can truly be called poetry; how critics from that day to this recognize it as less an album than a great artistic achievement of the 20th century; how it inspired so many who heard it (to name just one, Robyn Hitchcock called “Visions of Johanna” “the reason I started writing songs” on his all-Dylan cover album Robyn Sings). So, rather than dwell on all the stories surrounding the songs, let’s move right on to hearing those songs again for the first time, thanks to the (re)creative abilities of the following fourteen performers. (Thanks as well to reader JoeLer for suggesting that Blonde on Blonde receive the Cover Me Full Album treatment.) Continue reading »