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 032021
 
jason newsted folsom prison

A few months ago, the writers at Cover Me engaged in an online discussion about what would be their ideal dream cover, i.e. a cover song that did not happen, but should have. For my part, I have always wished that Johnny Cash would have recorded a cover of Metallica’s “One” during his late career phase. In my head, I can hear the Man in Black singing the words “Hold my breath as I wish for death” in a slow brooding tone as someone plucks the bass notes on rickety acoustic guitar. I have no doubt it would have been monumental, equal to his cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt.” Ah well, never happened. (His cover of U2’s song of the same name, while decent, does not count.)

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Apr 262021
 
black keys crawling kingsnake

Whenever you hear an artist covering a blues standard, you can guess that the song’s origin might be murky. Such is the case with “Crawling Kingsnake” (sometimes stylized as “Crawlin’ King Snake”). While the metaphor is fairly obvious, the track’s history is not.

The Black Keys released a new version of “Crawling Kingsnake” as a single in advance of their upcoming blues-themed covers album Delta Kream. In numerous articles about the cover, the track is credited to the great bluesman John Lee Hooker. But, according to Gérard Herzhaft in the Encyclopedia of the Blues, the song “is very likely an old Delta blues [song] from the twenties. Recorded for the first time by Big Joe Williams on 27 March 1941, it is the obscure Tony Hollins who obtained some success out of it in Chicago. John Lee Hooker made it one of his favorite titles, and there are many covers.” Continue reading »

Feb 222021
 
aj croce sail on sailor

Though the Beach Boys recorded and released eight studio albums in the ‘70s, the endless sessions produced few classics. The quality of the music was dragged down by drug use, infighting and Brian Wilson’s crushing mental illness. These days, the albums play more like historical time-pieces than essential listening. Continue reading »

Feb 102021
 
death cab tlc cover kimmel

Revisiting TLC’s 1995 smash hit “Waterfalls” is like stepping into a time machine. Once inside you come face to face with many of the societal fears that defined the ‘90s. The song and video address both the drug war and AIDS crisis head on. The lyrics delve into a whirlwind of topics from faith, love, sex and death, all packaged together with a pastoral refrain and a hypnotic R&B slow jam. Continue reading »

Feb 042021
 
black pumas sugar man

For all the talk of how the Internet perpetuates falsehoods, rumors could take on a life of their own long before the advent of the World Wide Web. They could even help define an artist’s career, as was the case of the singer/songwriter known as Rodriguez. He recorded two albums in the early ‘70s that went nowhere commercially in the U.S. However, according to the Oscar-winning 2012 documentary Searching For Sugarman, in the waning years of apartheid South Africa, Rodriguez’s music found new life among young people protesting the government. His popularity was propelled by rumors of his suicide, which in the days before the Internet, were impossible to correct. After he was tracked down by journalists in the ‘90s, Rodriguez toured South Africa and revived his music career.

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Jan 112021
 
jon batiste covers the impressions

Curtis Mayfield has adorned the walls of many college dorm rooms, record shops and hipster apartments thanks to his work on the soundtrack to the 1972 blaxploitation film Super Fly. Mayfield’s name and photo appear on the iconic poster just underneath the image of the Youngblood Priest – the dope dealer looking to go straight.

On Christmas Day, Mayfield’s music was heard in a different sort of film. A new cover of the 1963 hit “It’s All Right,” which Mayfield recorded with his group The Impressions, played during the closing credits of the Disney/Pixar film Soul. The film tells the story of Joe Gardner, a middle school band teacher who embarks on a journey through the afterlife after scoring his dream job as a jazz musician. The song was covered by Jon Batiste who is best known as the band leader for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

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