In a new video, Nickel Creek’s Chris Thile performs Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “God Is Alive Magic Is Afoot” solo on mandolin. It’s a song he recorded on his new album Laysongs, and in a way it’s a cover of a cover, as Sainte-Marie adapted it from a Leonard Cohen poem back in 1969. Thile doesn’t have her distinctive singing voice – few do – so he makes it his own.
In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.
We would be remiss in our duty here at Cover Me if we didn’t take a moment to honor Pete Seeger, who passed away on January 27 at the age of 94.
Seeger was the twentieth century’s phosphorescent light of traditional folk music. Whether he was adapting works of unknown authors to strike tremendous chords (“Goodnight Irene,” “We Shall Overcome,” “Turn! Turn! Turn!”), introducing modern songs to audiences who weren’t quite ready for them (he recorded “Black and White” sixteen years before Three Dog Night took it to number one), or writing everlasting classics of his own (“If I Had a Hammer,” “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?”), Seeger knew the importance of bringing music to the people. “I am proud that I never refuse to sing to an audience, no matter what religion or color of their skin, or situation in life,” he testified to the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955. “I have sung in hobo jungles, and I have sung for the Rockefellers, and I am proud that I have never refused to sing for anybody.”
Seeger’s concerts inevitably turned to community singalongs, with audiences joining in on songs they may have known for seventy-five seconds or seventy-five years. Under his guidance, everybody who ever attended a Pete Seeger concert became a cover artist. Seeger taught us that it wasn’t the quality of our voices that mattered; it was the volume to which we raised them. He made millions of gardens grow, inch by inch and row by row, and America is the better for his having done so.
The phrase “cover music video” is something of a misnomer. The fact that these songs were originally performed by other artists has, in all cases but one, nothing to do with the video. We might more accurately call this list “Best Music Videos for Songs That Just So Happen to Be Covers.” Still, the cover angle gives us a chance to look at some brilliant music videos that mostly flew somewhat under the radar.
In 1976, Buffy Sainte-Marie released Sweet America, a concept album devoted to the American Indian. It included “Qu’appelle Valley, Saskatchewan,” an Innuit-honoring song about the region where she was born. Now, Portland’s Holcombe Waller honors his American Indian grandmother with a beautiful, evocative cover video.
This Week on Bandcamp rounds up our favorite covers to hit the site in the past seven days.
Once again we delve back into Bandcamp to find the week’s top free covers. There’s a bit of an ’80s theme today, with covers of songs from Pixies, the Cure, and Wham! The two that round them out buck the trend a bit: a Buffy Sainte-Marie song from 1963 and a Dirty Projectors song from 2004. The average of 1963 and 2004 is 1983 though, so there you go!
Last we heard from First Aid Kit, they were pepping up Fever Ray’s “When I Grow Up.” They return today with two new covers. This time, though, they bring along a new friend: Mr. Jack White III. As he so often does, White produced their new 7” for his own Third Man Records label. The Swedish folk duo covers two old-school chestnuts: “Universal Soldier” and “It Hurts Me Too.” Listen to both below.