Ray Padgett

Ray Padgett founded the blog Cover Me in 2007 and has run it ever since, growing it into the largest blog devoted to cover songs on the web. His music writing has appeared in the New Yorker, SPIN, MTV, Vice, Mojo, and more and he’s been interviewed as an expert on cover songs by NPR, the Wall Street Journal, and SiriusXM. He lives in Burlington, Vermont and also works as a publicist for Shore Fire Media. His book Cover Me: The Stories Behind the Greatest Cover Songs of All Time is out now. His 33 1/3 book on tribute albums and Leonard Cohen is out September 3, 2020. Find more info on him and the books here.

Feb 172021
 
sarah walk nothing compares 2 u

There are few more famous covers in music history than Sinead O’Connor’s version of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which he first released to little notice in 1985 with his side project The Family. O’Connor made it a global hit five years later, and to some degree just about every subsequent cover has really been a cover of her version. That partly holds true on singer-songwriter Sarah Walk’s new cover, but Walk nods to Prince’s original by enlisting Meshell Ndegeocello, who delivered one of the most powerful Prince covers after his passing, on bass. Continue reading »

Feb 162021
 

“Covering the Hits” looks at covers of a randomly-selected #1 hit from the past sixty-odd years.

sunflower covers

Last time the “Covering the Hits” dice-roll landed me one of the earliest chart-toppers ever – Ernie K-Doe’s sassy New Orleans classic “Mother in Law” – and today it lands me one of the most recent: Post Malone and Swae Lee’s contribution to that animated Spider Man movie, “Sunflower,” which went to number in 2019.

Post Malone gets covered a lot. In fact, we had a bluegrass version of “Circles” on our year-end list two months ago. “Sunflower” didn’t quite hit “Circles”-level covers ubiquity, maybe because it sounds pretty hard to sing, but it’s been tackled plenty (once by a very prominent band). (And let’s not forget Posty himself knows his way around a cover; I saw multiple people call his Nirvana set one of the best livestreams of 2020.) Continue reading »

Feb 012021
 
cover songs january 2021
Amanda Shires – That’s All (Genesis cover)

Our first song kicks off what will be a theme here. A lot of these came out at the very top of the year (or the very end of 2020) to kick a garbage year to the curb and hope for something better. Shires said: “’That’s All’ is a song that I have played a lot on tour. The song defines 2020 for me. It’s a true Covid anthem and I dare you to not dance to my version when you hear it!” Continue reading »

Jan 272021
 
tom jones todd snider

Tom Jones has covered some unexpected artists in his day. AC/DC. Arctic Monkeys. The Milk Carton Kids. And the latest in that lineage: supremely chill hippie songwriter Todd Snider. Previewing his upcoming covers album Surrounded by Time, Jones released his take on Todd Snider’s “Talking Reality Television Blues,” a song originally on Todd’s 2019 album Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3 (the fact that there never was a Vol. 1 or 2 tells you a lot about Todd Snider). Continue reading »

Jan 152021
 

“Covering the Hits” looks at covers of a randomly-selected #1 hit from the past sixty-odd years.

mother in law covers

Few embraced their one-hit wonder status as enthusiastically as New Orleans R&B singer Ernie K-Doe. “Mother in Law” went to number one in 1961 – the first ever chart-topper out of New Orleans – and he never again came close. Eventually, he stopped trying, and leaned into it. With the help of his wife, he founded the live music venue Mother-in-Law Lounge in New Orleans. He would perform there regularly – and if people wanted to hear “Mother in Law” a whole bunch of times during one set, he’d play it a whole bunch of times during one set!

Back in 1961, the song became a standard almost immediately upon release. That didn’t help Ernie all that much, though; he didn’t write it. The great Allen Toussaint did, but he considered it a throwaway – so much so that he literally threw it away, before a backing singer rescued it from the trashcan and handed to K-Doe. Here’s a video of K-Doe performing with the song’s writer on piano in the ’90s (starts at the ten-minute mark):

“Mother in Law” has been covered hundreds of times (maybe thousands if you count cheeky wedding bands). Here are some of the high points… Continue reading »

Jan 142021
 
jeff tweedy neil young

“Sorry, we are closed,” reads the sign on the outside of iconic Chicago music venue The Hideout. Closed, but not entirely empty, as Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and his band (including sons Spencer and Sammy) are on stage, covering Neil Young’s American Stars ‘n Bars classic “The Old Country Waltz” to a roomful of empty chairs. At one point, they cut to a recording from outside the venue so you can hear what this concert would sound like to people walking by: Muddy and muffled, but like you want to go inside. It’s a poignant reminder of what we’re missing, and what could be lost forever. Continue reading »