May 242011

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

We began our celebrations yesterday, but today, in fact, is the big day. On May 24th, 1941, Bob Dylan was born at St. Mary’s Hospital in Duluth, Minnesota. Twenty-one years later he released his first album and ever since…well, you know.

We continue our week-long series presenting covers of every single Dylan song with “Father of Night,” one of several Dylan songs that Manfred Mann rescued from obscurity. From there we hit songs by Jeff Buckley, The White Stripes, George Harrison, and, oh, about 54 more. Hours of music, and we’re not even halfway done! Continue reading »

Mar 252011

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!

Born in 1947, the man christened Reginald Kenneth Dwight has left a stunning mark on popular culture in the last four decades. Over 30 albums, two animated films, two Broadway plays and a host of crazy costumes later, Elton John‘s still standing. Unlike many musicians his age, John’s work output has not slowed, nor has his popularity. Just last year he released a Grammy-nominated album with American singer-songwriter Leon Russell, and he’ll soon embark on a worldwide greatest hits tour. John and his domestic partner David Furnish also recently welcomed a child into their household via surrogate. That lucky little tyke gets to count Lady Gaga as one of his godmothers. Continue reading »

Mar 182011

In Defense takes a second look at a much maligned cover artist or album and asks, “was it really as bad as all that?”

When the Watchmen movie came out in March 2009, my primary job consisted of owning and operating a comic book store. Because that film is based on one of the most acclaimed graphic novels of all time, the few weeks that followed its release saw me inundated with complaints about its content. The number one gripe: an overabundance of Dr. Manhattan’s junk. Number two: “Why did they play that corny ‘Hallelujah’ cover during the sex scene?”

As anyone familiar with that scene can attest, of course, Watchmen — in keeping with its mostly retro soundtrack — employed the original Leonard Cohen track from 1984’s Various Positions. In fact, that instance marks one of the only major uses of the original recording in a mass-media production. Thanks to Shrek, The O.C., X Factor and a host of others, though, the song’s become inescapable via its many covers. Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, k.d. lang and more have all had their say on this one. In a 2009 interview with Jian Ghomeshi of The Guardian, Cohen revealed that he’d felt sympathy for a review of Watchmen which asked for a moratorium of “Hallelujah” in popular culture. Quoth Cohen: “I think it’s a good song, but I think too many people sing it.” Continue reading »