There’s a certain quality to some pop songs that gives them this feel of being something else entirely. You can hear it in the sound, a sound bestowed with measured calm and enormous passion that gives the sense of the song being sung a million times before. You can hear it in the lyrics, veering toward the biblical but never going all the way there and always feeling like a product of their time rather than like something plucked from bygone centuries.
There has been quite a bit of chatter this week about a certain beloved songwriter and his birthday, but, rather than offering another tribute to Mr. Zimmerman, the Brooklyn band Phosphorescent recently released a cover of fellow folk septuagenarian Leonard Cohen‘s “Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye” on a UK-only live EP entitled Live/Ghost Lights. While usually a solo project of one Matthew Houck, Phosphorescent is currently on tour as a five-piece band, and given the little bit of chatter at the end, this recording sounds like the full group. On the other hand, the backing vocals do sound an awful lot like Houck’s own falsetto piled upon itself, so some ambiguity remains.
We’ve featured a few covers from The Voice Project here already, but every video they post is just as brilliant as the next. In support of the charity’s effort to raise money for women in Uganda, Rhode Island folkies The Low Anthem recently assembled backstage before a concert at Boston’s Old South Church to play “The Mermaid Parade,” written by Matthew Houck under his moniker Phosphorescent. The cathedral setting and the intimate circle of musicians both fit TLA perfectly, reflecting the delicacy and beauty of their sound and back-porch singalong performing style. Add this one to our Low Anthem live collection!
They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!
Well, old Willie just keeps on truckin’, doesn’t he? A singer, songwriter, actor, political activist and truck stop owner, Willie Nelson turns 78 years old today. He achieved songwriting success in the late ’50s writing songs for Ray Price (“Night Life”), Faron Young (“Hello Walls”) and perhaps the most famous country song of all time, Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”. He broke through as a performer in 1975 with the release of his album Red Headed Stranger and cover of “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.”
Regular readers of Cover Me have likely encountered Phosphorescent before, either here or through his 2009 album of Willie Nelson covers. Tim Showalter, the man behind Strand of Oaks, recently turned the tables, covering Phosphorescent’s “Wolves” during a solo set at a Philadelphia radio station. Listen to or download the result below.
Matthew Houck, aka Phosphorescent, surely meets the criteria for Cover VIP by now. Not only has he previously turned up on Cover Me, he released an entire album of Willie Nelson songs in 2009, aptly titled To Willie. Not one to rest on his laurels – two European tours last year, folks – he again enters the coversphere.