Jul 192024
 
Shonna Tucker

A long-gestating bluegrass tribute album to Bob Seger is has finally been released. A standout highlight is former Drive-By Trucker Shonna Tucker fronting a cover of “Hollywood Nights,” Seger’s 1978 classic. Recorded 10 years ago she formed a bond with the material and its theme, and we can now all share in that. Continue reading »

May 312024
 
Bat for Lashes
Bambie Thug – Zombie (The Cranberries cover)

This month, Bambie Thug represented Ireland in Eurovision, coming in sixth (the country’s highest placement since 2000). Shortly before the finals, they released this cover of The Cranberries’ “Zombie”amidst criticism of their outspokenness about the devastation in Gaza. The top YouTube comment puts it well: “The significance of Bambie choosing to cover this song will not be lost on anyone in Ireland or the UK, or many places outside them. It’s just about the most impactful call for peace an Irish person can give, and they’ve done it as well as anyone ever has.” Continue reading »

Nov 232023
 

Cover Genres takes a look at cover songs in a very specific musical style.

Minnie Riperton

Back in 2022, right here on Cover Me, I wrote a confessional essay titled Soul In The Middle Of The Road. It was all about my weird, scarily specific obsession with R&B covers of soft rock songs from the ’70s and early ’80s that were recorded during that same era. Well, here’s where I confess to you that it wasn’t quite the whole story. My affliction actually runs a bit deeper than I first described. In addition to my soft-soul craving, I have a side obsession with R&B covers of classic, dirty, Dad-approved late ’60s ‘n’ ’70s-era ROCK songs recorded during those same years. Yes, you guessed it: it’s sequel time! Welcome to Exorcist II: The Heretic The Rock Of Soul, an over-the-top sister piece to that original essay.

Before we start, I need to lay out a particular parameter regarding the songs included in this love letter/essay. There are multitudes of fine soul-ified covers of songs by Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, and The Beatles. Everyone from Aretha to Stevie Wonder to Otis Redding has recorded something from at least one of their songbooks, as have a myriad of incredible others.

We’re not gonna talk about those.

Instead, we’re gonna be adventurous mofos. The fact is, at this stage of humanity, none of us need to hear another cover of “Let It Be,” good, bad, or otherwise (don’t freakin’ pretend like you do). Besides, it’s way more fun to look past the well-trod songbooks of rock’s behemoths and dig a little deeper. All of which is to say, we’re gonna get weird and occasionally obscure here. In a few cases, you may not be familiar with the originals. I know I wasn’t when I first heard several of these covers. So as an added bonus, I’m going to include links to some of the lesser-known tracks just so you can check them out and potentially be even more blown away by the reinterpretations (Hope says hopefully).

Okay, are you ready to hear some fine, old-school late ’60s and ’70s FM radio nuggets by wonderfully sludgy stalwarts/stallions/stadium stalkers like Cream, Free, and Mr. Springsteen get transformed into mighty ‘n’ righteous clouds of joy (and shimmery beautiful tears)? Then let’s get crackin’ (chronologically).
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Mar 312023
 

‘The Best Covers Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

Tom Waits covers

“Downtown Train.” “Ol ’55.” “Jersey Girl.” These are just three of the Tom Waits songs better known for their covers (respectively: Rod, Eagles, Bruce) than for Waits’ own performances.

It probably doesn’t need saying that Tom’s recordings are, in the best way possible, idiosyncratic. So it makes sense that, like Dylan, like Cohen, his songs often become more popular when more “traditional” voices sing them. Many of the best covers, though, keep some of that strangeness. No, they don’t do “the Tom Waits voice” – most people wouldn’t be able to talk for a week after attempting that. But they don’t sand off the strangeness.

Tom’s debut album Closing Time came out 50 years ago this month; he’s doing a reissue to celebrate. It, and its successor The Heart of Saturday Night, are in some ways his least representative albums, though. The songwriting is already strong on these, but it comes in – if you can believe it – a fairly conventional package. His voice hasn’t revealed its true character (to pick one among many memorable descriptions: “a voice like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car”), and he hadn’t discovered that hitting a dumpster with a two-by-four makes great percussion.

Some of those very early songs get covered in our list below. But his later, weirder, songs abound, too. Tom’s wife Kathleen Brennan, his musical co-conspirator for decades now, said her husband has two types of songs: “Grim Reapers” and “Grand Weepers”. On his Orphans box set, Tom divided them up another way: Brawlers, Ballers, and Bastards. You’ll find some of all flavors below. (And, if you want more new writing on Tom Waits music, subscribe to a newsletter called Every Tom Waits Song that – full disclosure – I also run).

– Ray Padgett

PS. Find Spotify and Apple Music playlists of this list, and all our other monthly Best Covers Ever lists, at Patreon.

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Dec 162022
 

Follow all our Best of 2022 coverage (along with previous year-end lists) here.

best cover songs 2022

The big story in 2022 covers came from a song that’s almost 40 years old: “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God).” After Kate Bush’s classic had its Stranger Things moment, every week we got a half dozen new covers. It’s been six months since the show came out, and they’re still coming! This entire list could have been “Running Up That Hill” covers if we’d let it.

We didn’t, and it isn’t. The song makes one appearance, as do a number of other trendy 2022 items: Wet Leg, GAYLE, and Beabadoobee; the latest Cat Power covers project; posthumous releases (Dr. John, Levon Helm); songs that tie into coming out of pandemic isolation.

But, as always, a joy of our list is all the covers that tie into nothing, and that you won’t find anywhere else. Doom-metal Townes Van Zandt? Bluegrass Eminem? Ska Eddie Murphy? Folk Björk? Psych-rock Groucho Marx? Those are just five of the fifty killer covers on this year’s countdown. So run up that road, run up that hill, run up that building, and read on at the link below.

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Jul 132022
 

Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.

a cappella cover

Here at Cover Me Q&A, we’ll be taking questions about cover songs and giving as many different answers as we can. This will give us a chance to hold forth on covers we might not otherwise get to talk about, to give Cover Me readers a chance to learn more about individual staffers’ tastes and writing styles, and to provide an opportunity for some back-and-forth, as we’ll be taking requests (learn how to do so at feature’s end).

Today’s question: What’s your favorite instrumental cover?
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