At Friday night’s Yo La Tengo show at Chicago’s Metro, fans got a surprise when the trio covered Wilco’s “If I Ever Was a Child” as the third song in their first set. Fans got a much bigger surprise a set and a half later when all six members of Wilco, on an off night in their own local residency, joined Yo La Tengo on stage for four more (non-Wilco) covers. Continue reading »
To promote the release of their new album The Valley of Vision, Atlanta rock band Manchester Orchestra appeared on SiriusXM to perform a cover of Cher’s massive club hit “Believe.” Continue reading »
A few years ago we wrote about how “Bette Davis Eyes” was not originally a Kim Carnes song but actually a Jackie DeShannon song. But DeShannon’s original sounds nothing like Carnes’ cover. And it’s Carnes’ cover that was the hit and also the iconic version. Covers of the song inevitably reference Carnes, rather than DeShannon, probably because most people don’t know about DeShannon’s original upbeat R&B version. Continue reading »
The annual “The Music Of” tribute extravaganzas at Carnegie Hall are a fount of interesting covers and artist pairings. (Archival footage is often scarce, but by way of some surprising on-paper examples: Todd Rundgren covering Aretha Franklin; Cee-lo Green covering Talking Heads; Elvis Costello playing Prince… the list goes on.) Many of the illustrious performers who’ve been involved in the series’ 20 years of live shows have just appeared once, but Patti Smith—long one of New York City’s most legendary “local” artists—has been game enough to stop by Carnegie for seven appearances with the series. She may be the most consistent through-line this series has had, in fact, covering Bob Dylan in 2006; R.E.M. in 2009; The Who in 2010; Neil Young in 2011; Bowie in 2016; Van Morrison in 2019. Last week, she came by the Carnegie Hall stage for one more appearance paying tribute in this year’s installment to Paul McCartney with a cover of The Beatles’ “She’s Leaving Home.” Continue reading »
Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
If everything about Rodney Crowell were forgotten save for “‘Til I Gain Control Again,” he wouldn’t be forgotten at all. Which is a clumsy way of saying that this long-established writer, singer and performer, the author of a mighty, mighty tome of material, can sleep content in the knowledge that he has written at least one stone-cold classic.
Mind you, for the purposes of this piece, let’s not forget that the original iteration of this beauty came via the incomparable throat of Emmylou Harris. It made for the show-stopping side one closer on her second record, Elite Hotel. While she and Crowell have played a lot of shows together this century, as a double header, way back then he was just one of the hired hands in her incomparable Hot Band. Alongside the players couped from Elvis Presley’s TCB band, James Burton and Glen D. Hardin, Crowell was the fresh-faced rhythm guitarist who was hired to sing duets with Harris and write some songs. He delivered “Blueberry Wine” for her debut, sufficient reason to be kept on.
It is a relief that the Harris version is the de facto original. Not because Crowell can’t give it a decent going over (he can), but because, were it not, it would be a shoo-in for this selection. We are thus granted five full further versions, all of which cast a slightly different sheen on this quintessential country weepie.
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U2’s modus operandi lately has been to get small. It seems that they’re fully committing to the approach, too: Songs of Surrender, their latest release, looks back at 40 songs from the U2 catalog with new stripped-back arrangements and acoustic instrumentation. The record pares the band’s arena-sized grandeur back to something more like pub-backroom closeness. Bono described the approach in a recent interview on BBC by saying, “Edge and I had this phrase that we were throwing around — ‘Intimacy is the new punk rock.’” Continue reading »