May 192020
 

That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.

Salt N Pepa

Salt ‘n’ Pepa were change-makers from the beginning. Can you believe their very first track on their very first album was the immortal “Push It”? The group paved the way for female rappers, picking up the first Grammy for a female rap act in 1995 for the song “None of Your Business.” That award-winning song was part of a powerhouse record, Very Necessary, the group’s fourth album that included other gems such as “Shoop” and “Whatta Man.” The latter was a team effort between Salt ‘n’ Pepa and En Vogue, another up-and-coming female trio who had just come off of hit singles like “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” and “Free Your Mind.”

The music video for the song won the trifecta of MTV Video Music Awards in 1994: Best Dance Video, Best R&B Video, and Best Choreography in a Video (see why the video was such a hit below). However, you may not know that Salt ‘n’ Pepa reimagined this tune after it stirred up some drama for its original artist.

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Apr 152020
 

That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.

David Gilmour

How does an obscure song from the mid-70s, “There’s No Way Out of Here,” receive several million hits on music streaming platforms? Like this: someone adds it to their Pink Floyd playlist or station. Which is entirely fair: the song nestles in quite comfortably between “Comfortably Numb” and “Money,” or any other Floyd standard you can name. Trademark David Gilmour vocal and guitar work? Check. Dire and heavy-handed lyrics? Yep, Roger that. Casual listeners naturally assume it’s a deep cut from The Wall, or Animals, or Wish You Were Here.

But of course it’s not Pink Floyd. Any die-hard Floyd fan will tell you the song is from David Gilmour’s overlooked self-titled solo debut from 1978. Some of those fans will further explain (whether or not you asked) that it’s about Gilmour’s feeling of entrapment with the machinery of major stardom. Or it’s Gilmour’s reflection on the fate of his friend Syd Barrett.

Wait, though: even the well-informed fans often overlook the basic facts: “There’s No Way Out of Here” is not a David Gilmour song either, and it’s not from ’78. The music and lyrics are by Ken Baker, whose band Unicorn recorded it in 1976 for their third album, Too Many Crooks.
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Apr 032020
 

That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.

Joan Jett

At the time of this writing, the world is dealing with COVID-19, a viral pandemic that has brought about sweeping changes to how we live, work, play, and even interact with each other. Contracting the virus can be fatal and, sadly, it has proven to be so for Alan Merrill, bassist and lead singer for London-based band The Arrows. Merrill (born Alan Sachs), the writer of the Arrows’ best-known, most successful song, “I Love Rock ‘n Roll,” passed away from the effects of COVID-19 on March 29, 2020. In his honor, Cover Me will look at this garage-rock classic elevated to anthem status by the legendary Joan Jett.
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Feb 072020
 

That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.

You Light Up My Life

It’s very likely that you never knew Debby Boone’s smash hit “You Light Up My Life” was a cover song. There’s a reason for that, and it’s not a very happy reason. This is a story about two women and the man who did so wrong by them, even as he saw them to stardom.
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Jan 272020
 

That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.

Norah Jones's Come Away With Me Album

Norah Jones’s musical rise was swift after the release of her debut album, Come Away With Me. The album won two Grammys, one for Album of the Year and one for Best Pop Vocal Album. Jones was nominated for eight Grammys in 2003 and won five, tying Alicia Keys and Lauryn Hill for the most awards received by a female artist in one year. Since its release and its Diamond certification, Come Away With Me has sold over 20 million copies, surpassing Carole King’s Tapestry, Britney Spears’ … Baby One More Time, and Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP, among others.

As Valentine’s Day swiftly approaches, you might want to revisit this album. Its songs have permeated rom-coms, most notably Love, Actually, where Jones’s sultry voice provides the subtle soundtrack to (no spoilers) a turning point for Laura Linney’s character. The acoustic pop album has heavy jazz and blues influences, making it the perfect backdrop for a rainy afternoon or a laid-back dinner party.

Beyond hits like “Come Away With Me,” the album also features covers of Hoagy Carmichael’s “The Nearness of You” (covered by other greats like Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong) and Hank Williams’s “Cold, Cold Heart.” But did you know that the album’s first single, “Don’t Know Why,” is a cover as well? Jones’s guitarist, Jesse Harris, wrote “Don’t Know Why” and recorded it three years earlier on his album Jesse Harris & The Ferdinandos.

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Jan 152020
 

That’s A Cover? explores cover songs that you may have thought were originals.

In 1982, talented multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield was looking for a change. It had been nearly nine years since Virgin Records had released his debut Tubular Bells, with a title track that had gone on to be featured as the theme to The Exorcist. His follow-up releases had followed much the same format (minus the somewhat creepy distinction): long form, avant-garde, eclectic orchestral pieces, with names like Hergest Ridge and Incantations. While his records were critically praised, commercial success was proving to be elusive.

In 1979, Oldfield started writing songs that were shorter and more commercially viable, in addition to some longer pieces. 1982’s Five Miles Out featured five songs: the nearly 25-minute “Taurus II” and four shorter songs, including the breakout hit “Family Man.” Oldfield wrote all the music to that song; five other writers are credited with the lyrics. This synth- and echo-heavy tune featured Scottish vocalist Maggie Reilly (one of the credited lyric writers; she would remain a regular collaborator) on vocals, ostensibly telling the story of a prostitute attempting to pick up a man in a bar. The man continually turns down her propositions, protesting that he’s a “family man.” The intensity increases with each verse, reflecting the female’s growing frustration with his repeated rejection. Neither the single nor the album charted in the US, although the single did reach #29 in Canada.

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