Jul 232021
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

The Middle covers

You’re world weary. One too many people have hurt you, let you down, robbed you of your earnestness (it’s an important trait, after all). But then, as if to snap you out of your downward spiral…. Hey! Don’t write yourself off yet. “The Middle” is a collection of affirmations that everyone needs to hear at some point in their life. Do I sometimes worry that I’ll dim the song’s magic by overplaying it? Yes, but hey, when you need it, you need it.

If you can believe it, Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American, renamed Jimmy Eat World after the September 11th attacks made the album title a little too real, turns twenty this month. For every hater of the album, there is a love letter written in defense. After all… It’s only in your head, you feel left out or looked down on.

Yes, you can jump right to track three, but I recommend the following self-care routine: start at the beginning, rock out your angst to the title track (head banging optional) and then get in the introspective mood with “A Praise Chorus” (cover-esque in its borrowing of other songs’ lines to make up the chorus) before hearing the blood-pressure reducing opening lines of “The Middle.” After that, continue on for more balms to the soul. (For example, just ask any 2003 NHL video game player and they’ll likely reminisce how “Sweetness” provided the perfect soundtrack to their virtual victories.)

For twenty years, “The Middle” has been by our side, coaching us through life’s ups and downs. We’ve blasted it through our headphones when drowning out the world’s nonsense. We’ve belted it out in front of strangers at a karaoke bar. And we’ve crossed our fingers every time we spot a cover artist with a track called “The Middle,” hoping for this gem and not the Maren Morris song by the same name. (Maybe that last one is just me.) And no offense to Morris, but I just want my anthem of the downtrodden please! I can guarantee the covers that follow are of just that.

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Jul 142021
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

How Long

Having a band more successful than your own court your bass player and attempt to entice him with money so he will join their ranks is not a universal human experience.

You know what is?

Being cheated on.

Welcome to the most beautifully ambiguous, arguably homoerotic slab of pub-soul ever to rise to the top of the pop charts: Ace’s infectious evergreen 1974 megahit “How Long.” The song was written by lead singer and keyboardist Paul Carrack, best known for his impressively productive stints in Squeeze and Mike & the Mechanics (as well as for his supremely soulful voice). He’s explained endlessly that “How Long” is about the attempted recruitment of Ace bassist Terry “Tex” Comer by a more successful band. But the song’s lyrics about parting ways are juuust the right amount of vague to allow for lots of romantic projection. Which is to say, to Carrack the song may be about Tex, but to the rest of us it mostly sounds like the heartbroken and bitter lament of a jealous, duped, and about-to-be-dumped lover.
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May 282021
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Roxanne covers

More red lights have been put on (or off, to be fair to the lyric) by “Roxanne” than you might imagine, and in as many shades you can imagine, varying from a lightly tinted rosé to a deep oaky claret. One of the most instantly recognizable songs of the Police canon, surprisingly few of the well over a hundred “Roxanne” covers listed on Secondhand Songs recreate the reggae-lite of the original. Whilst that might seem surprising, it shouldn’t be, as the song, stripped of the staccato chops of Andy Summers’ guitar, has a solid construction that translates well across many styles. Continue reading »

May 182021
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

like a rolling stone covers

You might think “Like a Rolling Stone” would be the most-covered Dylan song. It was, after all, rated by Rolling Stone as the best song of all time. But it’s not. It’s not the second or third most-covered either. Or fourth. SecondHandSongs lists it at #7. That’s even behind “Make You Feel My Love,” which has had three fewer decades to collect new versions. Continue reading »

May 142021
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Cecilia covers

Eddie Simon started it. He was with his brother Paul at the house on Blue Jay Way where George Harrison had been inspired to write the song of that name. Now Art Garfunkel had rented it for a few months, and there were a few festive evenings there in the summer of ’69. One night, Eddie started banging out a rhythm on a piano bench, and it proved so infectious that everyone there joined in, banging along with whatever they could find. They taped the track, and Paul kept returning to its ebullience. When he brought it into the studio, he and producer Roy Halee made a loop of one section, to which Paul added lyrics that literally went from heartbreak to jubilation.

“The whole thing was a piece of fluff,” he later said. “But magical fluff.” Indeed, the song was as sexy as Simon and Garfunkel ever got, and as one biographer later put it, “the song’s thwacking, thumping battery of percussion felt like an ad-hoc group of street-musician drummers pounding away in Central Park.” As Bridge Over Troubled Water‘s third single, the song went top-five in America and remains a classic rock favorite.
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Apr 302021
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Lesley Gore

Lesley Gore wasn’t the first to record “It’s My Party” (that would be Helen Shapiro), but she definitely made the greatest impact with it. The tale of Judy and Johnny having to go and spoil everything sounded not like it once happened to Gore, but like she was a high school junior (which she was) going through it in the moment, a moment that was extended in her answer song “Judy’s Turn to Cry.” The song has maintained its hold on the cultural landscape; to this day, if someone says “It’s my party,” someone else is sure to respond “and I’ll cry if I want to.”

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