Jun 042018

In Pick Five, great artists pick five cover songs that matter to them.

lou barlow cover songs

Lou Barlow broke his collarbone.

That’s the sort of thing that would slow down most musicians, but not Barlow. He kept right on touring the UK with Dinosaur Jr. after the mishap this spring, posting a celebratory video when he made it the whole way through without the metal pin popping out. Now he’s about to embark on a June solo tour; hopefully the pin will stay in for that too. In April, he even released a new 7″ with a photo of him in the hospital on the cover. Watch the self-directed video for “Love Intervene”:

In the middle of all that touring and healing, he took some time out to tell us about his favorite cover songs. As anyone who’s followed his career with Sebadoh and Dinosaur Jr. will not be surprised to learn, he knows his stuff. From alt-rock peers like Mudhoney to more-unexpected personal favorites (an Ace Frehley solo cut?), Barlow digs deep. And, never one to do the bare minimum, he picked six cover songs for his Pick Five. We just hope he didn’t have to use his collarbone to write ’em.

Mudhoney – The Money Will Roll Right In (Fang cover)

Lou says: “Originally done by the malevolent San Francisco band Fang. The lead singer killed someone and went to prison. Texturally, Mudhoney’s version is one of my favorite rock band recordings, raw, warm and enveloping. They streamline the song into a chugging, rattling masterpiece of fuzz. I guess Nirvana covered it too but I’ve avoided listening to it for fear of disrupting my relationship with the Mudhoney version. I’d feel like I was cheating on it and I love it too much to do that.”

Cat Power – I Found a Reason (Velvet Underground cover)

Lou says: “Velvet Underground from the Loaded LP. This is my favorite Chan Marshall recording. It’s a beautiful deconstruction of the original that ends unresolved and unexpectedly and takes my breath away every time i hear it. I love the VU version but this one is supernatural.”

Cigarettes After Sex – Keep on Loving You (REO Speedwagon cover)

Lou says: “I had some moments with the REO Speedwagon original when I was in middle school. It’s a great, great song and I love a good non-ironic cover of an over-produced top 40 tune. This is a straight up, slowed down, stripped down, reverb-laden reinvention/tribute. It’s similar to what, say, Low or Red House Painters would do to a song but it seems more sincere.”

Ace Frehley – New York Groove (Hello cover)

Lou says: “The original is by a flat-footed glam band called Hello and predates Ace’s version by three years. Ace’s is a little faster and his vocals are more upfront and spirited. It imprinted on me when I was 9 years old and lived in that ‘Life Is Good’ (Joe Walsh) zone in my brain, a good place to be. Honestly I heard the Hello 7” just last year and although I really, really wanted to like it better (it’s cooler to like the original non-hit version of a hit!) I most definitely did not.”

The Music Machine – Taxman (The Beatles cover)

Lou says: “The Music Machine looked like the goth Beatles in 1966. Their uniform was dyed black bowl cuts, black clothes, one black glove and a creepy neck medallion. Their of-the-moment note-for-note cover of ‘Taxman’ is heavier, every bit as detailed, and swings and slashes in a way the original only hints at. They subtly Americanize the lyrics and turn the song into a down-stroking monster.”

The Sonics – Any Way the Wind Blows (Mothers of Invention cover)

Lou says: “A Mothers of Invention (Frank Zappa) tune from the Freak Out LP, truly ‘blown’ out in Sonics fashion. The original is a ‘straight’, non-sarcastic Zappa pop-tune. It’s good, but the Sonics turn it in to a driving, emotional classic. It’s a later Sonics recording and shows a breadth to their sound beyond those early stompers, like ‘Psycho.’ It’s got stormy electric 12-string guitar and ends with the sounds of real-life howling wind.”

The “Love Intervene” 7″ is sold out, but you can buy it digitally along with any number of other Lou Barlow releases at the Joyful Noise store.

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