Aug 082014
 

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

Interpreting song lyrics can be a dicey endeavor. Many songwriters seem to aspire to something poetic, obscure or obtuse. While it may not be hard to deduce the meaning of lyrics like, say, “I wanna rock and roll all nite, and party every day,” so many songs defy easy understanding, either because the lyrics are vague, or hard to hear, or even utter gibberish. R.E.M.’s early songs were filled with random words that made little obvious sense, and yet along with the music, they somehow created a mood. In 2008, Michael Stipe participated in a Q&A with fans, and he said about his early songs:

those songs were mostly written to be sung live. The pa systems were so crap that no one could ever really hear the singer anyway, including the singer. We just never intended to make records, and then suddenly we were making records and the songs were in my head like that, so we just blurred the vocal and turned it way down. The songs that do have words don’t really make any or much sense, it was about creating a feeling and emotion in the room in the moment. As it turns out the records turned out pretty great too, just inscrutable. I had to learn pretty fast how to write a good or great lyric after that. Please don’t analyze them, there’s nothing but feeling there. Sing along and make it up, that’s what I still do.
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Nov 162012
 

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

Nick Laird-Clowes had become friends with Paul Simon. One day he played Simon a chorus that had yet to find verses or a bridge; Simon told him that if he could build a song around it, he’d have a hit. “What are you going to call it – ‘Ah Hey Ma Ma Ma’?” Simon asked. Laird-Clowes said no, it would be called “Morning Lasted All Day.” Simon shot that down. After giving it some more thought, Laird-Clowes asked how “Life in a Northern Town” sounded; Simon said it was a great title, and the rest is what we here at Cover Me like to call history. Continue reading »

Jan 242012
 

Though Bob Dylan moved away from his role as a ‘protest singer’ long ago — we saw Another Side by his fourth album — his name will forever be associated with social activism. The international human rights organization Amnesty International rose out of the same turbulent era as Dylan, forming in 1961, the year Dylan recorded his first album. Fitting, then, that in celebration of their 50th birthday, Amnesty would call on artists to contribute their Dylan covers to the massive four disc set Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International. Continue reading »

Dec 232010
 

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!

Some time ago, a rugged, righteous man made his presence known to the world. He had a great respect for certain past traditions, but also some funny ideas about how to move forward. And let’s not forget his wicked beard. He’s influenced western culture more than anyone would’ve first imagined, and people now worship him as an icon and maybe even a savior. His name is revered far and wide: Eddie Vedder.

Yes, the celebrated grunge/alt. rock trailblazer and Pearl Jam founder, born Edward Louis Severson III, turns 46 today, and we thought we’d celebrate with some pretty great covers that span his entire body of work. Continue reading »

Dec 062010
 

Last night VH1 Divas Salute the Troops aired on – you guessed it – VH1. It featured an endless stream of female pop stars, including Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, Sugarland, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Whether any of these women are really divas is questionable (Perry, maybe), but it’s hard to focus on semantics amidst this much glitter. Perry parachuted in, Minaj wore a vampire-clown-meets-Alice-from-Dilbert wig, and everyone changed costumes about every thirty seconds.

Mostly the stars pimped their current singles (though sadly no “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”-relevant “I Kissed a Girl”), but a few covers worked their way in. Props to Perry, Keri Hilson, and Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland for turning the Andrews Sisters’ “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” into a full USO-worthy production. Less props to Perry and Minaj for covering “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” Hey ladies, I’m pretty sure the focus is supposed to be the soldiers, not yourselves. Still, with Katy Perry, one out of two songs not being entirely self-serving is better than normal. Continue reading »