Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
“Friday I’m In Love” is a dumb pop song, but it’s quite excellent actually, just because it’s so absurd…. It’s so out of character – very optimistic and really out there in happy land. It’s nice to get that counterbalance. People think we’re supposed to be leaders of some sort of “gloom movement.” I could sit and write gloomy songs all day long, but I just don’t see the point. – Robert Smith
For a mopey band, the Cure sure knew their way around a good pop song. Any number of sunshine ‘n’ rainbow combos would give their proverbial eyeteeth for the skills to write, record, and release songs like “In Between Days” or “Boys Don’t Cry.” But of all their songs, none seem so counter to Robert Smith & Co’s image as “Friday I’m In Love.” It’s so exuberant, so euphoric, you almost don’t know what to do with it. Picture someone skipping down the sidewalk, hands up high, beaming at the sunshine, people turning to stare at his wake – that’s “Friday I’m In Love.”
To all reports, Ewan MacColl was a difficult man. It’s perhaps hard to believe that a man who could write as sensitive a song as “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (for Peggy Seeger, Pete’s half-sister and MacColl’s third wife), the song made into a cross-genre standard by Roberta Flack in 1972, could be so uniformly feared and vilified, yet still admired. I guess it’s the usual case of ignoring the man and embracing the music, and this man, who arguably invented the UK folk boom of the late 1950s and early ’60s, had little interest in embracing any of the young acolytes drawn to his flame – he called Bob Dylan’s work “tenth-rate drivel.”
Born James Miller in Manchester, his life was a series of reinventions, as he became a communist rabble-rouser in his teens, then a George Bernard Shaw-admired playwright and, in his mid-30’s, self-acclaimed champion of a fiercely curated folk idiom, wherein such modern anachronisms as make-up for women (and possibly women in general) were decried and denied, while Dylan, Paul Simon, and others of those young acolytes were freely liberating the repertoire into their own.
Artists who contributed to the new John Martyn tribute album had a lot of options when choosing a track to cover; Martyn released twenty albums during his forty-plus year career. Thirty artists covered a song from Martyn’s expansive catalog to create Johnny Boy Would Love This: A Tribute to John Martyn. The British singer-songwriter, best known for his unique style on guitar, had a career that spanned genres from folk to jazz to rock and his music touched artists old and new. We previewed contributions from Beck, David Gray, and others earlier this month; now the complete album is available.
The remarkable scope of Johnny Boy Would Love This is an asset in that the album offers a rich, diverse group of tracks from well-respected artists. However, similarities between many tracks give the feeling that the collection could have been more carefully curated. Both discs are disproportionately populated with gentle, introspective covers; all the tracks respectfully pay tribute to Martyn, but not all offer something unique to the collection. There are, however, a selection of standouts among the thirty songs that make Johnny Boy Would Love This a worthwhile purchase for Martyn fans.
Last month, we heard the first cut from upcoming John Martyn tribute album Johnny Boy Would Love This. Today we have seven more to check out, from some of the album’s heaviest hitters. John Martyn may not be a household name, but these cuts should help breathe new life into many near-forgotten gems.
Dylan Covers A-Z presents covers of every single Bob Dylan song. View the full series here.
Sure, Bob Dylan’s birthday may technically be over, but Bob Dylan’s birthweek is still going strong. So we continue our five-part series showcasing covers of every Dylan song today with the biggest installment yet. A full 60 covers await on the following pages, with heavyweights like the Isley Brothers and the Clash and newcomers like Adele and the Morning Benders. The latest chunk spans the letters K (Guns n’ Roses’ “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”) through O (Crooked Still’s “Oxford Town”) and features some of Bob’s best known songs. “Mr. Tambourine Man.” “Like a Rolling Stone.” “Masters of War.” “Lay, Lady, Lay.” The list goes on.
Click the page numbers down below to start listening. If you’re just joining us, here’s where we are so far:
Part 1: “Absolutely Sweet Marie” – “Everything Is Broken”
Part 2: “Father of Night” – “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”
Part 3: “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” – “Oxford Town”
Part 4: “Peggy Day” – “Sweetheart Like You”
Part 5: “T.V Talkin’ Song” – “4th Time Around”
Continued on Page 2…