Oct 182018
 
john prine stevie wonder

Stevie Wonder’s 1984 Oscar-winning megahit “I Just Called to Say I Love You” has earned much derision over the years due to its unapologetic cheesiness. The most famous critique came from Barry Judd, Jack Black’s record store clerk character in High Fidelity, who called it “sentimental tacky crap.” Still, the tune has endured. It is currently listed as Wonder’s fifth most popular song on Spotify. The refrain is darn catchy after all. Continue reading »

Dec 042017
 
2017 cover songs

Our official list of the Best Cover Songs of 2017 comes next week. But first, we’re continuing the tradition we started last year by rounding up some of the songs it most killed us to cut in a grab-bag post. No ranking, no writing, just a bunch of knockout covers. Continue reading »

Jan 182017
 
Justin Vernon

Last year, in preparing to release his experimental new album 22, A Million, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon held a one-time-only festival/art performance in Berlin. He brought a number of his favorite musicians to hang out and collaborate, performing new music in the round. The festival just posted videos of many of the performances, including a wonderful “Folk Circle” session that features Vernon trading folk songs with Damien Rice, Sam Amidon, Erlend Øye, O, and Ragnar Kjartansson.

Norwegian composer (and half of Kings of Convenience, who released our favorite cover of 2009) Erlend Øye covers The Moore Brothers’ 2004 song “New For You,” followed by our buddy Sam Amidon leading the crowd in a singalong of Appalachian folk song “Johanna The Row​-​di.” A French singer who goes simply by O sings a traditional French song, Damien Rice breaks the covers theme by playing his own “The Professor & La Fille Danse,” and then we get to the piece de resistance. Vernon plays a song from the man he calls “my favorite songwriter,” John Prine. Continue reading »

Jan 152016
 

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

bonniejohn

“Angel from Montgomery” is one of those songs that’s probably best known from a cover—Bonnie Raitt’s iconic 1974 version (and the many live recordings that have followed). In fact, this article was inspired by hearing Joan Osborne say that for years she was basically intimidated by the Raitt cover from ever performing it herself—until she heard Susan Tedeschi sing it, decided Raitt didn’t own the song, and started including it in her set.
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May 082013
 

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

“Sam Stone,” from John Prine’s self-titled 1971 debut album, is considered one of the most depressing songs ever written. We’re not talking my-baby-left-me depressing here, understand; this is a song about a wounded war veteran suffering from PTSD and a heroin addiction, who grows remote from his family and winds up dying alone, with a chorus couplet so devastating (“There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes / Jesus Christ died for nothin’ I suppose”) that even Johnny Cash flinched at it, altering the words in his own cover. When the Man in Black can’t bring himself to sing your lyrics, you know you’ve touched a nerve.
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Aug 052011
 

At this year’s Newport Folk Festival, Portand’s swinging roots rock quartet, Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside was quite busy. Playing local clubs, the main festival, and the afterparty, the band was celebrating the recent release of their debut album Dirty Radio. During their set Deer Tick’s John McCauley joined the band for a performance of the title track from John Prine’s 1999 duets album In Spite of Ourselves. Continue reading »