Amanda Palmer and The Righteous Babes — The Last Day of our Acquaintance (Sinéad O’Connor cover)
You’re going to notice a theme here. We have the usual grab-bag included below (see “Best of the Rest”), but, for our featured covers up top, it’s all Sinéad. There were so many wonderful tributes performed, often in concert and always powerful and moving. Many did “Nothing Compares 2 U,” technically a Prince cover but really a Sinéad song now and forever, but others selected from elsewhere in her catalog. Of this one, which just came out Tuesday, Amanda Palmer wrote, “This song means a great deal to me, as does the artist who penned it, along with everything she still stands for.” A portion of the money from sales will be donated to The Irish Women’s Survivor Support Network.Continue reading »
“I’ll Keep It with Mine” is one of those innumerable Bob Dylan songs he recorded in the 1960s but didn’t release and someone else did. In this case, it was Judy Collins who released it first. The two other prominent covers of the era are by Nico and Fairport Convention. Dylan’s demos show different approaches to the vocal melody, more idiosyncratic than the famous cover versions. Nico keeps some of Dylan’s vocal idiosyncrasies but otherwise adopts a similar approach to Collins. Fairport Convention’s version, on the other hand, is very faithful to Collins’ version as opposed to Dylan’s demos.Continue reading »
In July of 1958, a Prince was created. That was the month Charles became Prince of Wales. Earlier this month he was officially crowned King.
In June of 1958, another Prince was created. He died seven years before Charles’ coronation, but he had long before passed beyond the arena of royalty into the field of the celestial.
Prince was, if not a god, a divine presence, more felt than understood. That he was a musical genius was almost taken for granted; his prolific recording, his tremendous work ethic, his mysterious appearances where you least expected him (On Muppets Tonight?? Making fun of Hee Haw???)–all served to make him more myth than man, and now he’s less man than legend.
Prince famously told George Lopez that “covering the music means your version doesn’t exist anymore,” but that’s not quite so. Prince may not (or may) be immortal, but his music definitely is, and the covers that continue to roll in are all the proof you need. This post offers some of the evidence. (Certainly not all of it – more nominations missed the cut than made it, and the great majority of them were very worthy.)
Before we begin: to qualify, a Prince song needed to have been officially released before the cover version. Sadly, this means the Bangles’ “Manic Monday,” Sheila E’s “The Belle of St. Mark,” Celine Dion’s “With This Tear,” and others didn’t get considered.
And now for our selections. And don’t worry, Charles–it’s good to be King. It’s just more magical to be Prince.
Brandi Carlile – If It Makes You Happy (Sheryl Crow cover)
This month, Austin City Limits held its eighth annual ACL Hall of Fame ceremony. The inductees were Joe Ely and Sheryl Crow. The latter was covered by, among others, Brandi Carlile, who also delivered Crow’s induction speech. It will surprise no one who’s ever seen Carlile perform on an award show before that she crushes it. (Find another Crow cover from the ceremony, by Jason Isbell, in the Best of the Rest below.)Continue reading »
Dolly Parton is a singer and a songwriter. I mention that obvious truth because these days it tends to get overshadowed by her other titles: Icon. Inspiration. National Treasure. The Only Human Being Alive Everyone Agrees On (Radiolab produced an entire nine-part radio series based on that premise). And she is all those things, but first and foremost she’s a working 9-to-5 musician who has been perfecting her craft for seven decades.
Parton says she wrote her first song as a five year-old in 1952. She hasn’t stopped writing songs since. She once estimated she’s amassed 10,000. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but the verifiable numbers speak for themselves: 52 studio albums, 25 Number One songs, 100 million records sold worldwide. Just as important a tribute to her gifts, though, are how often her songs get covered. Not just the obvious ones, the “Jolene”s and “I Will Always Love You”s (though plenty of those, lord knows), but the album cuts, the singles that didn’t top the charts, and the songs she didn’t write herself but made into Dolly Parton songs anyway.
Some of the below covers sound a little bit like Dolly’s own music. Most do not. She considers herself straight country, not, as she made clear when first nominated for the Rock Hall earlier this year, rock and roll. But, in this list, she is rock and roll. And folk and pop and hip-hop and soul and a whole host of other genres. Dolly Parton may indeed be the only human being everyone agrees on. What a way to make a living.
On the upcoming David Bowie tribute album Modern Love (out May 28), We Are KING softens “Space Oddity” with their new cover for the Modern Love Tribute Album. Assembled by DJ Drew McFadden and BBE label founder Peter Adarkwah, the album shifts the focus to the influence of Black music in Bowie’s sonic style. Other artists featured on the album include Khruangbin, L’Rain, Meshell Ndegeocello, Bullion, and more. In a statement, McFadden spoke of how he “felt that connection between Bowie and R&B, jazz, funk, gospel, and all things soulful.”Continue reading »