Jan 172018
 

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with covers of his or her songs. Let someone else do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

steve earle covers

Steve Earle turns 63 today. He’s one of the all-time great Americana/roots-rock/alt-country/whatever-you-want-to-call-it songwriters, and one who has successfully stepped out of the Nashville hit machine grind he started in to one of those “distinguished statesman” careers many of his Guitar Town-era peers no doubt envy.

In addition to his own songwriting, he records fantastic covers. His tribute album to early mentor Townes Van Zandt was quite moving, and the early-rock covers on his album with Shawn Colvin in 2016 were terrific (check out “You Were On My Mind”). He gave The Wire a season’s theme song covering Tom Waits’ “Way Down in the Hole” while acting on the show too as a recovering addict (hardly a stretch). And, my personal two favorites, he delivers arguably the definitive versions of Warren Zevon’s “Reconsider Me” and Randy Newman’s “Rednecks.”

But it’s his birthday, so we’ll let him take a well-earned break. Instead, we’ve rounded up our favorite covers of other people doing his songs. His recordings make ideal cover sources in the same way Bob Dylan’s or Tom Waits’ do: brilliant songs delivered by limited-appeal voices. It’s no surprise that “better” (or at least less divisive) country singers cover Earle constantly; Emmylou Harris alone has covered a half dozen of his songs. So we’ll start there. Continue reading »

Oct 192011
 

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

The closing track of Bob Dylan‘s (greatest?) album Blood on the Tracks, “Buckets of Rain” has little of the invective that colored other songs on the album; it’s a long way from the “idiot babe” in “Idiot Wind” to the “honey baby” found here. Dylan’s saddened, but he’s also very tender to the one he’s addressing. They’ve swept up the ashes of their relationship, and now they’re looking at each other with rueful smiles, permitting themselves to feel both the love they still have and the pain it still brings. It’s no fun, but they do what they must do, and they do it well. Continue reading »