Jan 102017

In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.

jim croce

“Jim Croce knew about the America he sang of; he was a sweet, peaceful person who had tasted of life, and having tasted, desired only to tell people through song about the people he knew and the feelings he had…. The world is full of people like Big Jim Walker and Leroy Brown, but maybe without the music and poetry of Jim Croce, it’ll be a little harder to find them.”

Those words come from a PBS broadcast of a concert Croce gave less than six weeks before he died in a plane crash at the age of 30. Were he still alive, he would be turning 73 today.
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Aug 162014

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!

Forgive me, Father for I have sinned.

It has been….a really long time since my last confession. My sins are multitudinous (lust, blasphemy, coveting my neighbor’s ass… but in my defense, it’s a really nice ass), but the most egregious of all is idolatry.

See, ever since I could sway to music, Madonna has been my idol. The long-established Queen of my Universe and a musician I just can’t quit despite her numerous attempts to break my heart (that horrible faux English accent, sleeping with Vanilla Ice, sleeping with Vanilla Ice and then documenting it in her Sex book…).

I didn’t grow up Catholic, so I couldn’t seek solace in the open arms of Holy Mother Church. Instead, I sought solace from a leonine-eyed beauty who often incited the ire of the Catholic Church.

Madonna taught me lessons that have carried me through adolescence and well into adulthood.
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Apr 212011

In Prince’s recent Lopez Tonight appearance, he once again attacked one of his favorite targets: cover songs. “I don’t mind fans singing the songs, my problem is when the industry covers the music,” Prince told George Lopez. “You see, covering the music means your version doesn’t exist anymore. There’s this thing called the compulsory license law which allows artists to take your music at will. That doesn’t exist in any other art form – there’s only one version of Law & Order, but there are several versions of ‘Kiss’ and ‘Purple Rain.'” Continue reading »

Mar 232011

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

It began as something of a lark. R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck had just purchased a mandolin and was trying to figure out how to play it. Out of those early practice sessions, which Buck recorded just in case, sprung arguably the most recognizable mandolin riff of all time, as well as R.E.M.’s largest commercial success to date. Though earlier singles like “The One I Love” and “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” teased at broadening the Athens, GA group’s fan base beyond its original college rock crowd, “Losing My Religion” made the group a national name via copious exposure on pop/rock radio. Continue reading »

Jun 142010

Another Bonnaroo has come and gone and all we have to remember it by are the videos. The advantage of a mandatory camping fest is that people don’t upload their unlistenable five-pixel cell phone videos until after the end, so most of the videos that hit YouTube this weekend were professionally filmed. Lots of covers performed. Here’s a roundup of some of the best. Julia Nune’s medley of songs she hates is a must-see. Continue reading »

Apr 122010

I get nostalgic remembering all the turn-of-the-century fuss over a potty-mouthed white rapper corrupting the nation’s youth.  With two wars and an economic collapse to deal with these days, such worries seem almost quaint. Eminem began his comeback last year with some hits (“3 a.m,” his show-stealing verse on Lil Wayne’s “Drop the World”) and some misses (his still-parodying-1999 “We Made You” video, most of Relapse), but the world of absurdist violence and middle-school homophobia just wasn’t the same without Marshall Mathers.

Lounge-O-Leers – The Real Slim Shady
The Lounge-O-Leers occupy the same territory as Richard Cheese, bridging the gap between music and comedy.  Here the duo recites pensive spoken word over a lounge-hop beat.  Bonus points for coming up with so many sound effects to play over the naughty words.  [Buy]

Destressed – Just Lose It
You know that jugband-bluegrass “Gin and Juice”?  Same approach here.  But with more cowbell.  [Buy]

Royal Native – Criminal
The band posted a disclaimer with this piano-and-melodica cover: “We would like to point out that all the lyrical content…is Eminem’s not ours – especially the homophobic stuff, which is most of the song.”  Helpful.  [Buy]

The Script – Lose Yourself
In many people’s minds (read: the media, parents) Eminem stands for violence and misogyny.  No doubt he’s done plenty to fuel such perceptions, but this self-empowerment anthem still sounds more honest than all the blabbering about chaining his ex-wife in the basement.  [Buy]

Tori Amos – ’97 Bonnie & Clyde
Amos set the gold-standard for Eminem covers with this heart-wrenching ballad, delivered without a hint of irony.  [Buy]

Bryce Larsen – Crack a Bottle
You may have already forgotten last year’s big comeback single “Crack a Bottle,” but believe it or not it was Em’s second ever number-one hit.  [Buy]

Aislin – Guilty Conscience
If my conscious was a screamo vocalist, I’d avoid robbing convenience stores too. Actually, I’d probably avoid that regardless.  [Buy]

Jeffrey Lewis & Laura Marling – Brain Damage
This must be the only rap song ever to use the word “ornery.”  Study S.A.T. vocab with Professor Mathers!  [Buy]

Streetwize – My Name Is
I can’t believe I did a post on Dr. Dre and never came across Does Dre, an “urban jazz” album covering songs written or produced by the Doctor.  [Buy]

Emily Reay – Sing for the Moment
When you cover “Sing for the Moment” you get two songs for the price of one, since the original so heavily samples “Dream On.”  Reay wisely avoids attempting that falsetto.  [Buy]