Jan 172018
 

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with covers of his or her songs. Let someone else do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

steve earle covers

Steve Earle turns 63 today. He’s one of the all-time great Americana/roots-rock/alt-country/whatever-you-want-to-call-it songwriters, and one who has successfully stepped out of the Nashville hit machine grind he started in to one of those “distinguished statesman” careers many of his Guitar Town-era peers no doubt envy.

In addition to his own songwriting, he records fantastic covers. His tribute album to early mentor Townes Van Zandt was quite moving, and the early-rock covers on his album with Shawn Colvin in 2016 were terrific (check out “You Were On My Mind”). He gave The Wire a season’s theme song covering Tom Waits’ “Way Down in the Hole” while acting on the show too as a recovering addict (hardly a stretch). And, my personal two favorites, he delivers arguably the definitive versions of Warren Zevon’s “Reconsider Me” and Randy Newman’s “Rednecks.”

But it’s his birthday, so we’ll let him take a well-earned break. Instead, we’ve rounded up our favorite covers of other people doing his songs. His recordings make ideal cover sources in the same way Bob Dylan’s or Tom Waits’ do: brilliant songs delivered by limited-appeal voices. It’s no surprise that “better” (or at least less divisive) country singers cover Earle constantly; Emmylou Harris alone has covered a half dozen of his songs. So we’ll start there. Continue reading »

Aug 082016
 
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This year marks the 40th anniversary of The Band’s legendary The Last Waltz final concert and to celebrate, NYC’s Lincoln Center hosted an all-star tribute concert Saturday night. Held down by Levon Helm’s longstanding Midnight Ramble Band, special guests included Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, Lucinda Williams, Patty Griffin, and even Dr. John, reprising the song he sang at the original Last Waltz. Continue reading »

Jun 142012
 

The Hollows are a roots-rock group of multi-instrumentalists; a freewheeling hootenany of a band. A veritable junkyard of mandolins, banjos, guitars, accordions, horns, harmonicas, and various other musical doodads are in constant rotation. With no frontman (or six frontmen), everyone writes and arranges material, creating a diverse and uniquely blended sound. Continue reading »

Aug 172011
 

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

Once in a generation there comes a song so good, so perfectly written and arranged, that it transcends pure aural pleasure and becomes an anthem. The Band’s “The Weight” is one of those songs, without question – Easy Rider, anyone? If that doesn’t make you want to take a Harley across state lines, what would? Continue reading »

Jun 202011
 

In 1970, Steve Goodman wrote a song describing a train ride from Chicago to New Orleans which many deem the best train song ever written. In 1972 Steve pitched “City of New Orleans” to Arlo Guthrie, who recorded and released it on his album Hobo’s Lullaby. Twelve years later, Willie Nelson had a number one country single hit with his version, earning Steve Goodman a posthumous Grammy Award for Best Country Song. Continue reading »

Jul 022010
 

Song of the Day posts one cool cover every morning. Catch up on past installments here.

I’ll be reporting on the new Nateva festival this weekend (follow @rayfp for updates). Furthur, Bob Weir and Phil Lesh’s latest group, headlines the jam fest, so a Grateful Dead cover seemed appropriate. This here’s one of the best.

Levon Helm, the voice behind the Band‘s “The Weight,” “Up on Cripple Creek,” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” has staged a remarkable comeback recently. After a decade battling throat cancer, he has released two terrific albums in the last couple years. His latest, Electric Dirt, kicks off with a swinging “Tennessee Jed.”
Continue reading »