After the year we had, it’s understandable that everyone is looking for all of the anger and resentment we’ve had towards each other to be put behind us. Indeed, the Four Songs EP from Los Angeles based songwriter Sara Noelle was designed exactly for this, featuring covers of John Lennon, Youngbloods and Judee Sill, as well as the Oasis hit single “Let There Be Love.”
They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with covers of his or her songs. Let someone else do the work for a while. Happy birthday!iv>
Unlike many singer-songwriters, Noel Gallagher has no problem admitting that his earlier material will probably be his legacy. “From an artistic point of view, your best years are in the first few years,” he recently told Matt Morgan on the Funny How podcast. “You do your best work when it’s f***ing vital and you are in the same circumstances as your audience.” Not many performers would be willing to admit that, but consider the caliber of the songs Noel was writing at the start of his career: “Live Forever,” “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star,” “Supersonic.” These early Oasis tracks are more than just songs; they’re anthems, often expressing a relatable desire to trade a life of hardship for something better.
The fact that Noel’s songs are so beloved makes them endlessly coverable, and we’ve picked a few of the best to celebrate The Chief’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Noel!
Every week the names doing these covers from home just get bigger. This past week got a boost from Global Citizen’s all-star charity event, from which several of today’s set come, as well as one major appearance in last night’s Jersey for Jersey fundraiser (Fountains of Wayne’s heartbreaking “Hackensack” from that is worth watching too, though, except for guest bassist Sharon Van Etten, it’s not a cover).
But, amidst the all-stars, musicians at every level continue to take to the internet to perform covers. We’ve got some of the best we’ve seen below. As always, we make no claims to being comprehensive, so share any other favorites in the comments.
Anais Mitchell & The Staves – Strong Enough (Sheryl Crow cover)
For a few years now, long-running French video company La Blogothèque has been filming a series they call “One to One” at Bon Iver’s various European festivals. They blindfold one audience member and bring them into a private room for a concert for one. Bon Iver did one, and Damien Rice’s is a must-watch. Personally, that experience sounds more awkward than enjoyable – especially with all the cameras in your face – so I’d rather just watch someone else’s personal concert on video. This one is a gem, feature The Staves with Anais Mitchell delivering a gorgeously-harmonized Sheryl Crow cover.
Ashley O [Miley Cyrus] – Right Where I Belong (Nine Inch Nails cover)
The second-most-bonkers cover of the month (just wait ’til we get to “Spicy”) comes from – who else – Miley Cyrus. On a new episode of Black Mirror, she covers/parodies angsty Nine Inch Nails songs as the most insipid of pop jams. Trent Reznor, for one, says he is very much on board (given the lyric changes, these covers required his legal approval). Miley’s songs in character as Ashley O are outrageous and borderline offensive, which is kind of the point. “On a Roll” (FKA “Head Like a Hole”) has gotten most of the attention, but “Right Where I Belong” is more listenable. Marginally.
In Pick Five, great artists pick five cover songs that matter to them.
Two years ago, Whitehorse, the Canadian husband-and-wife duo made up of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland, made our Best of 2016 list with their covers EP The Northern South, Vol. 1. Well, a volume one demands a volume two (someone remind Bob Dylan), and that finally arrives in January. On The Northern South, Vol. 2, the pair cover blues legends like Jimmy Reed and Slim Harpo, but not in the bar-band-choogler fashion you most often hear these songs performed. Get a taste with the first single, a version of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Who’s Been Talkin'” that sounds like Chess Records via Muscle Shoals:
You have to wait until January to hear more – unless you’re in Nashville this week, where the duo have two shows at AmericanaFest on Thursday: 4pm @ The Local (WMOT) and 10pm @ The Basement (I’ve seen them live, and can confirm they are not to be missed). Doucet and McClelland took some time out from rehearsing their own covers to tell us about their favorite cover songs. Though their music often gets pegged as bluesy Americana, their tastes span the genre gamut. They also, consciously or not, seem drawn to other bands with “horse” in the name.