Jan 052024
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

I Can See Clearly Now covers

Starting a new year from the old has often the effect of bestowing clarity on the observer, a post-festive pause in the storm, allowing evaluation of the present and a filter to the past, seeking a better way forward. That’s the idea, anyway, and anyone wondering about New Year’s resolutions (assuming anyone still does) needs the ability to clear their eyes and brush away any blurring of intent.

That’s where Johnny Nash comes in. On “I Can See Clearly Now,” Nash writes lucidly about that movement, should you stumble upon it. To me the song always seemed to be a song of hope, one designed to welcome positive thoughts for the way ahead, enticing them to become actions.

“I Can See Clearly Now” spent four weeks at the top of the Billboard chart and soon certified gold, doing well also in markets of the UK, Australia and South Africa, ironically all areas where the record buying population was largely white. Nash, an American by birth and upbringing, was one of the first non-Jamaican artists to break a wider recognition of Reggae. Indeed, the prime aim of his mid-60s move to Kingston had been to broker a wider acceptance of the musical styles of the West Indies. Ironically, his success arguably led to a later fade from the spotlight, as the artists who were making the songs he championed, in the style he had possibly softened up an audience for, no longer needed introduction, with the likes of Bob Marley (who wrote or co-wrote four of the songs on I Can See Clearly Now) now able to stand on the world stage in their own right.

Nash died, aged 80, in 2020, but had benefitted from a resurgence in interest, as films and TV bought up the rights for “I Can See Clearly Now,” most notably through Jimmy Cliff’s version from the 1993 film Cool Runnings. It is a song of hope and, as such, it never fails to lift my mood.
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Jun 082020
 

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!

Nancy Sinatra covers

Nancy Sinatra, ‘60s pop icon and elder daughter of Frank Sinatra, celebrates her eightieth birthday today! To celebrate, we’ll swing, baby, through some of her biggest hits. But before we dig in, let’s take a look at the impact she’s made as an artist in her own right.

Sure, it helped being the daughter of the most famous entertainer of all time, but Nancy’s bona fides are legitimate. She charted 21 Billboard Hot 100 singles between 1965-72 and added multiple high-ranking exposures for many of those songs on Adult Contemporary and Country charts; one of those coming as late as 1981. Along the way, she became the epitome of feminine cool by co-starring in films with Elvis Presley and Peter Fonda, singing a Bond theme, even appearing in Playboy as a 50-something. Although her music output has slowed, she continues to consistently release new and remixed material. For the past 13 years she’s heard weekly on SiriusXM’s “Nancy For Frank” show with 3-hour episodes on the Siriusly Sinatra channel.

But it was in early 1966 when Nancy, and eventual longtime collaborators Lee Hazelwood and Billy Strange (now both deceased), really cemented her pop legacy. “These Boots Are Made for Walkin” (included on her debut studio album “Boots”) went to #1 on US, UK, and worldwide charts. The song – supported with one of the earliest examples of a music video – has been credited with ushering in the era of woman in rock & roll. And for nearly 55 years, the prevalent themes of independence and free thinking – which never seems to wane – have sustained its popularity in pop culture!

So, with that… are you ready, boots? On this birthday, let’s start walking–right over to Nancy’s biggest hits…

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