Every year, interfaith suicide prevention charity To Write Love on Her Arms rounds up some of their many musician supporters for a fund- and awareness-raising concert in Orlando. Last week, Chris Carrabba (Dashboard Confessional), David Bazan (Pedro the Lion), William Fitzsimmons, Noah and Abby Gundersen (The Courage), and Mariah McManus performed short sets, then came back out for the custom sing-along encore. As happens in 40% of such situations, they chose Bob Dylan/The Band’s “I Shall Be Released.”
Last month, Wilco invited friend of the band/Jeff Tweedy collaborator Mavis Staples and opening act Nick Lowe onstage for a Chicago show for a rousing cover of “The Weight.” Some shaky cell footage emerged, but now we have something better: a video of the impromptu supergroup rehearsing the cover backstage at the Civic Opera House.
It’s no secret My Morning Jacket likes Christmas. Back in 2000, they released the EP My Morning Jacket Does Xmas Fiasco Style. That one featured mostly originals, but their new follow-up EP offers the covers of Christmas classics they skipped the first time. It’s out today on iTunes.
Thanksgiving is still a week away, but Christmas songs and albums have already begun swamping the shelves. You’ve got your usual holiday shlockfest from industry heavy-hitters like Justin Bieber and Michael Bublé, but there are a lot of indie acts and label comps floating around too. We’ll have several more Christmas-cover rundowns as the holiday season approaches, but today we’re just tossing together some of the early Christmas covers we’ve come across so far.
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?
Possibly the perfect campfire singalong (you all know the chorus, don’t you?), The Band’s “The Weight” transitioned from classic to standard long ago. Covers abound, but few more powerful than soul-gospel legends The Staple Singers’ 1968 version. So powerful, in fact, that The Band enlisted the Singers to back them up when re-recording the track for the soundtrack to their seminal concert movie The Last Waltz.
Live Collection brings together every live cover we can find from an artist. And we find a lot.
Over the past decade, Portland quintet the Decemberists have gone from indie darlings to indie darlings with a number-one album. This year’s The King is Dead took the band to new levels of commercial success, shining some national attention on a band whose name was once known only to the chamber pop-obsessed and English majors. It may not be too unfounded to compare this band’s story to that of R.E.M.’s in the ‘80s; in fact, given the unabashed fandom they display on The King is Dead, that’s a comparison they’d probably happily invite.
The collection of covers crooned by the Decemberists mostly betrays their too-cool-for-school nature. They seem to have hit all the requisites that prove you listened to hip music in the ’80s – the Velvet Underground, the Smiths, Echo & the Bunnymen, etc. However, there’s a few genuine surprises here. Embarrassing reading of the Outfield‘s “Your Love” notwithstanding, there’s some real pleasure to be had in the band’s delight at ripping into Heart‘s “Crazy on You,” or in their surprisingly earnest rendition of Bad Company‘s “Feel Like Making Love.” Band leader Colin Meloy also turns in an intimate, slowed-down version of Cheap Trick‘s “Summer Girls” to great effect. Even the band’s usual bombast makes itself known in the 16-minute epic of Pink Floyd‘s “Echoes.”
The Low Anthem first hit the Cover Me radar with their 2008 album Oh My God, Charlie Darwin. Alongside 11 haunting folk originals lay a barnyard rave through “Home I’ll Never Be.” A piece by written by Jack Kerouac and given music decades later by Tom Waits, “Home I’ll Never Be” instantly indicated the cover potential of this Rhode Island quartet. The just-released Smart Flesh continues the pattern, opening with a cavernous take on George Carter’s “Ghost Woman Blues.”
With those two on our radar, we figured they’d probably covered other songs in their brief career. We were right. Below we’ve collected 20 cover songs by the Low Anthem. It’s not quite enough for an official Live Collection, but it’s quite a set nevertheless. They dig into folk music in all its forms, from old-timey tunes like “Two Sisters” to modern folk gems like the David Wax Museum’s “Let Me Rest.”