Jan 092015

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

“Hey Joe” ranks right up there with “Stagolee” in the list of deathless murder ballads, and we have Billy Roberts to thank for its existence.

Billy Roberts? Who he, you ask, as did I, long believing the tale that Tim Rose spun about it being trad.arr. It certainly should be, call and refrain being common features within the traditional canon, but there isn’t enough evidence to nail that theory, so Billy Roberts, a ’60s coffeehouse folkie, has the official rights thereto. (Never mind the theory that he “gave” the song to Dino Valente, author of the Youngbloods’ “Get Together,” in order to give Valente some royalty income while he was in prison.)
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Aug 042014

The Story Behind digs deep into how an iconic cover song came to be.

Before there was a song called “Gloria,” there was a poem called “Oath.” And the transition from one to the other might never have happened without forty bucks and one loud bass note.
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Mar 202014

The Story Behind digs deep into how an iconic cover song came to be.

Brian Jones was in bad shape.

The Rolling Stone had staggered into London’s Olympic Studios, where Jimi Hendrix was trying to record a new Bob Dylan song, “All Along the Watchtower.” Though Jones could barely stand upright, he demanded to play on the track. There had already been many takes and the arrangement was just starting to come together, but Hendrix, ever accommodating to his friends, sat Jones down at a piano. Jones jumped right in, not letting inebriation limit his enthusiasm, and began producing off-beat clunks and clangs that caused Hendrix to stop the take in frustration after only 23 seconds.

What would become known as the greatest cover song ever recorded was quickly falling apart.
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Mar 142014

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!

In the early ’70s, two sets of brothers and their friends, art students at Kent State University, developed a theory. It began as a kind of joke based on a religious pamphlet that alluded to the D-evolution of the unenlightened man. As artists tend to do, they created some performance art and music around this theme for their own amusement. Then the terrible tragedy of the Kent State shootings happened. Four of their classmates were killed by those who were supposed to be protecting them. Suddenly the de-evolution of man and of society in general seemed more than just a joke. The band Devo was born.
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Jan 282014

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!

In their, yes, 40 years as a band, Los Lobos have demonstrated that not only can they play pretty much any style of music, they can play it very well. They have excelled with albums that have included blues, rock, R&B, experimental sounds, numerous styles of Mexican folk music, American folk music, Americana, and Tex-Mex, all performed and played brilliantly. They play acoustically and electrically. Their songs can be simple rockers, sinuous jams, complex sound collages, or heartbreaking stories of life on the margins. They tour regularly, with different sets each night. The core members of the band – David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, Louie Pérez and Conrad Lozano – have been together from the start. Sax player Steve Berlin joined in the early 1980s, and they have had a few different drummers (though not quite to Spinal Tap levels of turnover), with the excellent Enrique “Bugs” Gonzalez currently occupying the stool. Considering their longevity, the breadth of their output, and the quality of their songwriting and musicianship, they should be in contention for the mythical title of Greatest American Band, and it’s sinful that they’re not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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Oct 112013

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

For students of cover songs, it’s a given: Jimi Hendrix’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” is one of the five greatest covers ever made. Many could, and do, make the argument that it’s number one. So why mess with perfection? Why bother covering it again?

Why indeed.
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Aug 302013

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

Jimi Hendrix was only 27 when he died in 1970. Stop and ponder that for a second. An immense talent whose career was tragically cut short more than four decades ago, Hendrix continues to interest and influence musicians and music lovers, and for good reason. Although Hendrix was primarily a rocker, his music was really a fusion of rock, blues, soul, funk and jazz, and probably some other things, too.

“Little Wing” is a concise masterpiece, lasting less than two and a half minutes in its original studio version, which infuriatingly fades out during a guitar solo. It contains a few unmistakable guitar riffs, with a distinctive tone that Hendrix described as sounding like “jelly bread,” achieved by running the guitar through the Leslie speaker of an organ. The song is intense without being frantic, and at the same time is also ethereal and seductive. It also is very much of its time, with lyrics about “butterflies and zebras, and moonbeams and fairy tales.”
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Apr 242013

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

Today marks the debut of a new feature at Cover Me, called Cover Me Q&A. We’ll be taking questions about cover songs and giving as many different answers as we can. This will give us a chance to hold forth on covers we might not otherwise get to talk about, to give Cover Me readers a chance to learn more about individual staffers’ tastes and writing styles, and to provide an opportunity for some back-and-forth, as we’ll be taking requests (learn how to do so at feature’s end).

For our first Cover Me Q&A question, we thought we’d pick one both basic and complex, too easy and too hard, that anyone who regularly visits this site has more than likely contemplated: What’s your favorite cover song? Here are our answers; we welcome yours in the comments section below… Continue reading »