Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett comes across as the ideal artist to cover the Lemonheads classic ‘Being Around’. Her almost lazy drawl is not a million miles away from Evan Dando’s as showcased in this recent performance for Sirius XMU. Courtney’s reading of the track owing more to the acoustic version of the song found on the Lemonheads ‘Mrs Robinson/Being Around’ EP than the twangy original from ‘Come On Feel The Lemonheads’. Dando himself was no stranger to covers, that EP itself contained tributes to Simon And Garfunkel and Smudge, the Australian band he would often cover and also work with.
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 staffer Mike Misch: What cover song shouldn’t work as well as it does?
In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!
Evan Dando gets a lot of flack for being the poster boy of college-friendly rock in the early- to mid-’90s. He was the subject of focus to Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill/Le Tigre/wife of Ad Rock from the Beastie Boys), who wrote a particularly intense zine piece about him, and he was also the target of Steve Albini and Nirvana, who pranked him pretty good. However, his choice of covers as a solo artist and as lead Lemonhead reveal that behind his good looks, he also has a deep appreciation of crafty songwriting, as well as a good-natured and self-deprecating sense of humor.
Aside from building a huge following from their two full length albums, sister duo First Aid Kit has also garnered attention due to their amazing covers. From Patti Smith to Fleet Foxes, the Swedish siblings have amazed and even brought the original singers to tears with their renditions. The sisters’ latest cover of Paul Simon‘s “Kathy” is an excellent addition to an already impressive cover discography.
Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
June, 1965. An debut album called Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. had flopped, and the duo who performed it had broken up – one went to England to perform in coffeehouses; the other went back to Columbia University, where he majored in art history. But one of the tracks from their album, the side one closer, had started to get some airplay along the east coast, and it gave producer Tom Wilson an idea – with the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man” roaring up the charts, he thought he could overdub a rock track over the duo’s original folk song and see a similar success.
Boy, was he right.
In the promo video for Traveler, Jerry Douglas tells the story: “I was in London walking to the Royal Festival Hall over the Thames and talking to Marcus Mumford on the phone and he said what about “The Boxer”? I told him I love the Boxer! I met Mumford & Sons and we just glommed on to each other. They are like sons to me at this point, but we have a lot of fun. The respect goes both ways. They come over to our house and hang out with our kids.” The 13 time Grammy winner and dobro master’s latest album also features performances by Alison Krauss & Union Station, Paul Simon, Bela Fleck, Del McCoury, Dr. John, Eric Clapton, Keb’ Mo, Marc Cohn, Omar Hakim, Sam Bush, Viktor Krauss, and others.