Jun 132014
 

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!

There is very little that can be considered “new” in the world of popular music — everything builds on something that came before, and influences get combined in different ways. So the idea that you can declare the inventor of a musical genre is ridiculous. Uncle Tupelo didn’t invent alt-country, a mix of country, rock and punk (check out, say, Jason and the Scorchers, the Long Ryders, Rank and File, X, or the Blasters, for example, for proof that these strains were already well mixed when Uncle Tupelo emerged). But it cannot be denied that Uncle Tupelo’s debut album No Depression, which gave its name to the influential message board and magazine that spearheaded the movement, helped to kickstart the genre’s popularity and became one of its cornerstones.

And it all started with a bunch of high school kids.
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Oct 202013
 

In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by. Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

This is a hybrid piece, melding together two Cover Me staples, “In Memoriam” and “Full Albums,” prompted by today’s anniversary of the plane crash that killed Lynyrd Skynyrd members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and his sister Cassie Gaines. We’re remembering them by giving the Full Album treatment to the band’s debut album, (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd). While neither of the Gaines siblings appeared on it, they certainly played its classic songs in concert, and probably even some of the lesser-known ones. So this piece may lack a certain consistency, but if a band can tour as Lynyrd Skynyrd with only one original member, then we can still do this.
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Aug 252013
 

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!

Forty-six years old. In some ways, it’s hard to believe that Jeff Tweedy, the songwriting genius behind Wilco, has hit his late forties. On the other hand, think back, way back through his recorded output. When Wilco released their first album 18 years ago, Tweedy was already a groundbreaker, having co-founded Uncle Tupelo with Jay Farrar eight years earlier. Together, they practically invented the genre of alt-country before their acrimonious split, when Tweedy was just 26 years old.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Tweedy assembled Wilco out of the ashes of Tupelo’s touring band and slowly built a following. The band teetered on the edge of disaster when they presented their masterpiece Yankee Hotel Foxtrot to their label, only to have it rejected. Instead of going back into the studio to record a boy-band album or whatever the hell the label wanted, they bought the master tapes back and walked. Eventually they signed to a subsidiary of the same company (go figure), and the album came out and went gold. From there on, Tweedy & Company have continued to push the sonic envelope and remain just as vital as ever.
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Aug 252011
 

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!

Happy birthday to Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy – born 44 years ago today in Belleville, Illinois. Through his work with Uncle Tupelo and Wilco, Tweedy has laid claim to being this generation’s Woody Guthrie or Neil Young. Wait a minute… Jeff Tweedy is perhaps this generation’s Alex Chilton or John Lennon or even Hank Williams, Sr. You can see the problem in trying to describe a chameleon like Tweedy. It’s why Wilco Nation anxiously awaits each new release; never knowing where Tweedy and the band will take them, but always thoroughly enjoying the journey. That journey continues in a month when Wilco releases The Whole Love, their eighth studio album. Continue reading »