It’s a fantastic time to be a Van Morrison fan. Between Aug. 3 and Sept. 15, Ireland’s Hot Press Magazine is posting 75 new covers of Morrison’s songs by Irish artists. The YouTube event is in celebration of the Belfast native’s 75th birthday today. Most people will recognize a couple of big-name artists mixed in with many up-and-coming Irish musicians participating in the event.
Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
Some songs have the capacity to weave a legacy greater than simply a sum of their constituent parts. “Into the Mystic” is one such song. It isn’t necessarily the best song Van Morrison has ever constructed, but somehow it strikes chords heavier than it first seems to hit. Prefacing and pre-empting Morrison’s classic mid period of dreamy treatises on humanity and higher powers, all spiritual quests and transcendentalism, “Into the Mystic” actually appears on 1970’s Moondance, that almost most commercial of his works, the follow-up to the way more cerebral Astral Weeks. But for all the FM-friendliness of many of the songs, go read the lyrics, and Van is as philosophical as he ever has been. “Into the Mystic” proves to be the epitome, a yearning hymn to the seeking of an understanding of the cosmos, within and without the body and world.
The first draft was entitled “Into the Misty”; we can be grateful he took a pen through that, the meaning so less, well, cosmic in that phrase, and so more earthbound. The effect of the song is in no small part down to the superlative musicians then at his command, and the consummate arrangements, with the guitar, keyboards, and sax of John Platania, Jef Labes, and Jack Schroer, respectively, exquisite and never bettered subsequently. Even better than the studio take is that on 1974 live opus It’s Too Late To Stop Now, with the same musicians, and a stellar string section, still a high-water mark for live recordings by anyone.
Mind you, the vocals are pretty damn good too.
Angelique Kidjo – Beds Are Burning (Midnight Oil cover)
Amy Helm – Twilight (The Band cover)
We are closing in on six decades of amazing music from Bruce Springsteen. In all those years of performing, The Boss has covered over 300 songs. Some he’s covered hundreds of times. Others he’s covered just once.
A new “Songs Under Cover” playlist he just released as part of his Live Series collects 15 soundboard covers spanning several decades and genres of music. Some of the covers are more successful than others, and we’re going to rank them for you right here. (Play along with the official playlist on Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music).
Hozier just announced his first album in four years. To coincide with the news, he performed a highly unexpected cover for Spotify: Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name.” Needless to say, if you’ve ever heard a note of Hozier’s music, it sounds nothing like the original.
The sound actually recalls another artist he recently covered, Van Morrison. Hozier brings a heap of soul and passion to this slowgroove, complete with organ, horns, and backing singers (they’re about the only hint left at the original). It’s a radical reimagining of a silly song, and brings about as much profundity as one can to lyrics about runnin’ game and actin’ shady. We’d love to hear him tackle on of Beyoncé’s more serious songs next time. In the mean time, listen to it below, and his aforementioned Van Morrison cover too.