At the Grateful Dead’s 2015 “Fare Thee Well” final concerts, Phish frontman Trey Anastasio stepped into the Jerry Garcia role, playing lead guitar across five mammoth shows. They drew from a wide range of sources for their varying setlists, including plenty of covers – but the covers they chose were all songs the Dead had played regularly in the past (“Not Fade Away,” “Samson and Delilah,” etc). For the latest Phish-Dead pairing, though, they drew from a far less likely source: Lady Gaga.
Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
Rosemary Clooney’s lengthy career, though it felt a tumultuous ebb and flow, was anchored by a voice so smooth Bing Crosby called her “the best in the business.” She used that tender yet powerful voice to breathe life into an unexpected, and hastily written, Italian-American hit. Allegedly, Bob Merrill wrote “Mambo Italiano” while at an Italian restaurant in New York City. He phoned in the song (humming melody and all) to meet his deadline. This ode to the essence of a culinary experience brings with it a force majeure that seems to keep the song from ever being laid to rest.
I’m not sure there were more great cover songs this year than any other. But there were more good ones.
What I mean by that is, the average quality of the covers we come across in the time we’ve been around has risen, rather dramatically. Whether they’re iTunes homepage singles or some guy emailing us his Bandcamp, more cover songs in 2013 avoid the old pitfalls than ever before. They don’t sound like they were recorded in a cereal box, substitute ear-bleeding volume for actual creativity, or – the worst cover sin of all – try to carbon-copying the original. With the ease of production and distribution available now, artists seemed to record covers only when they felt they had something to add, and do a halfway decent job committing those ideas to 1s and 0s.
Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.
Here at 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).
Today’s question comes from Cover Me writer Jordan Becker: What cover song made you reevaluate your feelings about the original?
It’s been over six months since we have seen a Lady Gaga cover here on Cover Me, and Folly and the Hunter must have realized that is simply not OK when they decided to perform this cover. OK, maybe the cover was recorded as a thank you to one of the band’s indiegogo contributors, but we still at Cover Me are very grateful.
You might not be familiar with UK singer-songwriter Stella Le Page, but she sure is familiar with some of your favorite artists. Her musical resume includes skills on the piano, keyboard and cello, as well as her former position as synth player for Primary 1 and cello player for Plan B. She hasn’t released a CD yet now that she’s broken out on her own, but she was kind enough to deliver an extremely well done cover song EP titled Home Covers. The EP includes 8 full length songs, including covers of pop superstars Robyn and Lady Gaga, as well as indie-alternatives like James Blake and Little Dragon.