Curtis Zimmermann

Curtis Zimmermann works as an advertising sales executive for an academic publisher in Philadelphia. He’s been a music critic, news reporter, financial fraud investigator and spent many years in corporate sales, all the while maintaining a healthy obsession with music history. He first became intrigued with genre-bending covers in college when he stumbled across a used copy of Ray Charles’ box set “The Complete Country & Western Recordings 1959 - 1986.”

May 292024
kane brown

When I was a young kid growing up in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s I was obsessed with The Flintstones. I would watch reruns nearly everyday after school, so I was constantly bombarded with mid-20th century pop culture references. Some made total sense to me, like secret agent Jay Bondrock or “Bug Music” with the Four Insects. Others took decades for me to decode.

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May 242024
little feat

In the late ‘90s, I took a musicology class on the history of 20th century American music. During a section on blues, my professor played Muddy Waters’ rendition of “Got My Mojo Working.” “Now,” she said after it ended. “What is the song about?” Frustrated by our blank stares, she yelled out, “Sex, people. It’s about sex.” More precisely, it’s about someone trying to score and failing miserably, but that’s the blues for you.

We’re now almost one-quarter of the way through the 21st Century, and we can still talk about “Got My Mojo Working,” and all its tawdriness, in the present tense. Last week, the long-running rock band Little Feat released a live cover on its newest album Sam’s Place.

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May 062024
john oates long monday

Shortly after John Oates released his 2018 solo record Arkansas, my then three-year-old daughter became strangely obsessed with the album. So much so that everyone in our house memorized every track. At one point, I tried to introduce her to the music that Oates recorded with “his friend Daryl,” but it was not to be. “No” my daughter would say, “Just John Oates!” And that’s been my nickname for Oates ever since.

The moniker seems especially appropriate in 2024 given that Hall and Oates are in the midst of a very public legal battle and seem unlikely to set foot on stage together again. Yet, they’ve both soldiered on. Hall is touring this summer with Elvis Costello, and Oates is due to release a new solo album Reunion on May 17. The title apparently has nothing to do with his clashes with his long-time partner, Oates has said. “The fact that I’m moving on from my Hall & Oates experience, I’m basically reuniting with myself,” he recently told the Associated Press. “I’m trying to reunite with the essential part of who I am, not only as a man but a musician.” Continue reading »

Mar 042024
rhiannon giddens alice randall

On February 21, roots music virtuoso Rhiannon Giddens released a cover of Alice Randall’s “The Ballad of Sally Anne.” It will be included on an upcoming Randall tribute album: My Black Country. Yet, when Giddens looks back on this time, I imagine she’ll be thinking of a different song.

Giddens appears playing banjo and viola on Beyoncé’s new record-breaking, genre-busting country single “Texas Hold ‘Em.” As of this writing, the song is number one on the Billboard country music and pop music charts, inspiring countless internet memes (and fueling fits of hysteria from racist idiots).

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Oct 302023

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!

Back in 2021, Cover Me compiled a list of the top 30 Willie Nelson covers of all time. A comprehensive list, it included covers of many of Nelson’s trademark songs such as “Crazy” and “Funny How Time Slips Away.” Even then we noted we were leaving out a key component of the story: the number of covers Nelson has recorded himself.

As of this writing, lists a whopping 991 covers. Granted it counts instances where he re-recorded new versions of his old cover songs with other people. For example: it lists every single duet of “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” Nelson’s catalog of covers is both extensive and exceptional. One could easily place many of his covers, such as “Always On My Mind,” “Stardust,” or “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” among the best of all time.

In 2023, Nelson has hit two major milestones – he turned 90 in April. and in November he’ll be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – so we decided to revisit his covers collection.

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Feb 102023
molly tuttle good 4 u

Whenever the Grammy Awards roll around, I find myself paying far more attention to the “down-ticket” categories than the main ones. While the endless debates about the artistic merits of Harry Styles versus Beyoncé light up Twitter, a Grammy win for one of the lesser-known artists can do wonders for their career. This year I was especially excited for Molly Tuttle winning the award for Best Bluegrass Album (she was also nominated for Best New Artist). Tuttle is one of the leading bluegrass guitar wizards of our age. Her album, Crooked Tree, featured a solid fusion of country, folk and bluegrass. The deluxe edition included an exceptional cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Dire Wolf.” Continue reading »