Aug 182010

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

Bob Dylan has long had a love-hate relationship with bootlegs. Ever since The Basement Tapes circulated underground for years, studio outtakes and alternative takes have found ways of leaking out. The Dylan team put a tighter and tighter lid on things for decades, but finally succumbed to pressure and began releasing studio and live recordings as The Bootleg Series. If they’re out anyway, the thinking likely went, you might as well make a few bucks.

One song that still hasn’t seen official release is “Rock Me Mama.” To be fair, “song” is putting it generously. This fragment comes from Dylan’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid soundtrack sessions, but he never seems to have made it past the chorus, which he repeats endlessly on the scratchy recording.

Enter Old Crow Medicine Show to fill in the gaps. They took the snippet and fleshed it out with verses and a bluegrass-pop arrangement as “Wagon Wheel.” The song became one of their most well-known tracks, getting covered by everyone from Little Feat to Against Me! One more recent versions comes from Pat Buzzard. Featuring Marti Dodson on harmony, the song rocks and rolls with some terrific guitar solos to accompany the fiddle and banjo. Continue reading »

Jun 222010

The amazing thing about this album is that it didn’t come sooner. An indie-Americana tribute to country/folk songwriter John Prine seems so inevitable. He may never have become a household name, but anyone who ever recorded a song with steel guitar or mandolin knows Prine. With bands like My Morning Jacket and the Avett Brothers spearheading an alt-country revival, Prine’s slyly sarcastic songs about love and life are due a second showing.

The artists who appear on Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine comprise a who’s-who of young folk/Americana bands, but these obvious admirers choose some very non-obvious tracks. The usual-suspect songs are largely missing in action. No “Paradise,” no “Sam Stone,” no “Illegal Smile.” The only no-duh selection is “Angel from Montgomery,” one of four songs from Prine’s self-titled debut. The rest span the gamut, dusting off tunes from the ‘80s and ‘90s alongside the canonical ‘70s material.
Continue reading »