On “Bastard Son,” one of the early recordings by John Wesley Harding, the singer, songwriter, novelist and overall renaissance man self-describes himself as the bastard son of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, a description that seems to be pretty much accurate. Whether you are listening to one of the albums released under his nom de plume or reading one of his novels under his given name Wesley Stace, the conclusion is the same. This is one talented guy.
Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.
One of the greatest American movies, Nashville uses the microcosm of Music City to capture the country’s zeitgeist like it had never been captured before. With an ensemble of twenty-four characters and a running time over two and a half hours, Nashville‘s scope is enormous, but necessary; five days in a post-Vietnam, post-Watergate, pre-Bicentennial nation makes for a lot of story. It also makes for a lot of songs; more than an hour of the movie consists of music, most of it written by the movie stars themselves. Nashvillagers didn’t take too kindly to the movie or the songs, but they both had and have a healthy cult following, especially among alt-country singers – one of whom decided to make something more from them.
In August singer-songwriter Kelly Hogan and her band were featured in the AV Club’s Undercover series, which we’ve covered extensively here at Cover Me, but breaking away from the normal setting, Hogan moved the taping of their cover of The Hold Steady’s “Constructive Summer” out into the summery outdoors. Instead of the familiar graffiti-covered round room, for this video they set up on the front porch of Chicago’s The Hideout, where Hogan used to tend bar. Keeping it simple with only acoustic guitars and a single snare drum, the band’s cover of the youthful, summer anthem turned out impressively accurate.
Twelve years ago today, the Magnetic Fields released 69 Love Songs. Initially conceived as a theatrical revue performed by drag queens, 69 Love Songs took a different status entirely as a beloved pillar of indie pop. Though hardly a best-seller then or now, it retains a certain mystique as an album one could devote years to (witness this book or this project documenting each song in graphic form). Everything Stephin Merritt had been building with the Magnetic Fields over the previous six albums came to fruition here and then some.
Sprawling even by Merritt’s standards, 69 Love Songs covers a mind-boggling array of genres. So, in honor of its anniversary, we’ve selected a set of 12 covers that do the same. Some songs will make you dance; others will make you weep. It’s a barely-coherent smorgasbord of sounds, sources, and interpretations. Given the source material, that seems appropriate.