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: What’s a song you didn’t know was a cover song?
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With the possible exception of Martin Scorsese, no movie director has been more closely identified with his soundtracks than Wes Anderson. He has consistently selected songs by well-known artists that, through no fault of their own, have become three-quarters forgotten over the years, and reintroduced them to the world as the classics they had always been. If someone calls a song a prime candidate for the next Wes Anderson soundtrack (Guilty!), an instant and accurate picture is created. The soundtracks show a cohesion that’s rare in these days of we-want-a-hit soundtracks, where the earmarked smash doesn’t play until the final credits have started rolling, and they have become high points in the experience of watching Anderson’s movies. Now the American Laundromat Records label has collected covers of some of those high points on I Saved Latin! A Tribute to Wes Anderson, resulting in the best tribute album of the year.
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Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.
I heard the music as if for the first time. I listened all the way through in one sitting and was struck by how beautiful a lot of the music was. Petra’s approach is so tender and generous. I adore it. – Pete Townshend
It’s unlikely that the ringing in Pete Townshend’s ears was ever louder than the ringing endorsement he gave Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out. An a cappella recreation of the entire 1967 album, it features Haden’s vocals and more of Haden’s vocals, not only singing the lyrics, not only the between-song jingles, but all the instrumental passages. What can’t be perfectly duplicated (people have enough trouble capturing Keith Moon’s sound with a full drum kit) is suggested; Haden gets the feel of the album and gets it across to the listener. The masterful result brought plaudits from Townshend (“I felt like I’d received something better than a Grammy”) and critics alike. Not bad for someone who’d never heard the album before she began recording it. Continue reading »
Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
Dun. Duh-nuh. Dahn. Dah-nah. With that fanfare for the common mod, four lads from London announced their arrival on the music scene, asserting themselves as a powerful voice even as they admitted to not knowing how to say what they wanted to say.
When the Who released “I Can’t Explain,” Pete Townshend may not have achieved the levels of self-expression he would find, but his ability to connect with his audience was already fully formed – there were thousands of listeners who knew exactly what it meant to feel hot and cold down in their souls. And if that opening Kinks-ian riff didn’t drive the message home, the drumming of a still-teenaged Keith Moon did the trick, in a way that had never been heard on the radio before. “I Can’t Explain” would have been a tremendous explosion for any other group; for the Who, it was simply the lighting of the fuse. Continue reading »
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!
Eclipsed by Elvis Costello in the late 1970s and relegated to the cut-out bins by the late 1980s, Graham Parker probably ranks as one of the most overlooked and unappreciated singer-songwriters of his era. It’s impossible to review Parker’s career without repeatedly stumbling over the same adjectives: passionate, bitter and sarcastic are common; or the same clichés: “angry young man”, “Mercury poisoning”, or even “own worst enemy.” Apparently radio only had room for one quirky, bespectacled, British pub rocker (Costello) and Parker probably was correct in his summation regarding his label, “their promotion’s so lame, they could never take it to the real ball game.” There were seemingly many factors conspiring to keep Graham Parker stuck in his cult status. Continue reading »
When we last spoke about the Gaslight Anthem’s mostly-covers iTunes Sessions EP, it was slated to drop in December. An early leak has since caused the label to push up the release to next week though. In advance of that, you can hear their cover of Tom Petty’s “Refugee.” Continue reading »
Throughout the ‘70s, the Sweet racked up glam-rockin’ hits like “Ballroom Blitz” and “Love Is Like Oxygen.” In the decades since, like many of their peers, they’ve sputtered. The band has broken up and reformed a few times, but nothing much came of it. In 1997 the frontman died and the drummer followed him five years later. It didn’t seem likely the band would return, but now they’re back with their first recording in years, a cover of the Who’s “Join Together.” Continue reading »