Aug 082019
david byrne cover songs

Talking Heads only ever recorded one cover, and when I talked to David Byrne about it for my book, he seemed to have mixed feelings on the subject. “There’s always a little bit of resistance to recording a cover like that because it’s kind of a crowd pleaser,” he told me. “I’d seen it happen before, where radio DJs who pick what they’re going to play will often pick a cover song… So then a band gets known for covering somebody else’s song as opposed to writing their own material. They have to go through a struggle for years to get identified with their own songs.”

Talking Heads recorded “Take Me to the River,” it became their biggest hit up to that point, and Byrne said: That’s it. No more covers. The band never followed it up with a second.

He’s relaxed the rules a bit more in his solo career, most recently covering Janelle Monae’s “Hell You Talmbout” on tour (he says he’s bringing the cover to Broadway, too). And clearly he’s been listening to covers. For his DB Radio show on his website, he just compiled a wonderfully eclectic mix of his favorite covers. The theme, he says, is artists doing the unexpected, from Sonic Youth covering The Carpenters to Miley Cyrus covering Nine Inch Nails. And when the song choice itself may not be surprising – Patti Smith covering the Rolling Stones, say – the arrangements are. Here’s what he wrote on his website: Continue reading »

Feb 172017

Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.


Eric Taylor is a former Clear Channel DJ who now serves as an elementary school teacher in Salt Lake City, Utah. He’s been writing news pieces for Cover Me since 2015.
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Nov 052015
Bond Week

For a musician, the honor getting to sing the James Bond theme song is in its own category. Many movies need songs, but you never see articles wondering who will do the next Fast and the Furious song (even though more people would likely hear your song there than in Bond). Giving their music to sell a product is something musicians regularly do, but rarely take as a career honor.

But given the track record Bond theme songs have had, the appeal makes sense. James Bond songs might even have a higher batting average than James Bond movies (and certainly higher than James Bond actors). And there’s a prevailing sense artists are chosen for abilities beyond just star-power, despite plenty of counterexamples over the years. Some of the most iconic songs were sung by singers who rarely topped the charts elsewhere – three by Shirley Bassey alone – whereas attempts to grab zeitgiesty performers have flopped. Continue reading »

Jul 242009

Cover Commissions is a monthly series in which a featured artist produces a special cover for this blog. The song to be covered is usually chosen by blog readers via a poll or suggestions form. Any artists interested in participating in a future installment, please email me at the address on the right. We’re still looking for an August artist!

Jordan Galland’s Cover Commissions poll a few weeks ago got a record number of votes. The Pulp fans fought the Duran Duran crew to the bitter end, but Jarvis Cocker finally got the edge over Simon Le Bon. “Bad Cover Version” it is (but “Hungry Like the Wolf” fans, don’t despair — scroll down for a surprise.)

I have to admit though, I feel like Jordan missed an opportunity on this one. That’s what I can’t figure. See, the song’s called “Bad Cover Version,” but he turned in a good cover version. Hell, he turned in an excellent cover version. Such a waste.

All jokes aside, Jordan did a phenomenal job with this We Love Life nugget. I’ll let him introduce it.

First off, the title just calls out for someone to cover this song. Even at the risk of someone saying “it’s a bad cover version of Bad Cover Version.”

The other day I “stumbled” upon a couple kids rapping over an Eminem song, their own lyrics in his style, about the trashy remakes and sequels Hollywood is spitting out. “Would the real Transformers please stand up?”

It had occurred to me before, but now it was obvious – a lot of people feel this way, and I thought back to Jarvis singing “A bad cover version of love is not the real thing” and realized what he was singing about is only getting worse.

It was far from my favorite Pulp song, but the chorus melody is classic, and the sentiment of the song is at the heart of what the band has always been trying to communicate. Yes, our lives are like movies, sometimes depressing movies, sometimes sexy movies, whatever – but let’s not make them bad remakes of movies.

The recording they did is epic and ballady, so I felt like tightening it, and speeding it up. I also instantly knew I wanted to try and get those Little Shop of Horrors ‘50s style backing vocals on the chorus.

When I cover a song, I like to do a version that occupies a completely different space than the original. For that reason, I usually try to cover songs from female artists, because a guy’s voice instantly makes it different.

It was a challenge figuring out how the main riff, played on a twangy vibrato guitar in the original, could be played on piano without it just seeming like single notes.

Without further ado…

A Cover Me Exclusive

But wait, there’s more! Jordan’s a warm-hearted guy and he felt bad for you ‘80s fans. So once again, heeeeeeeere’s Jordan!

I felt like “Hungry Like the Wolf” was a decade too late. While the original recording is clearly from the ’80s, the chords and the sentiment seem to sit better on a couch next to Jim Morrison. The trumpets, played by Sam Oatts, hopefully give it that feel.

On both songs, I was working completely alone, so another challenge was trying to make it feel like a band.

A Cover Me Exclusive

These mp3s may be freely shared with the artist’s blessing. Post them on your blog, send them to your friends, burn them for your office mates. When you do share this however, please include a link to this site. Cover Commissions is a monthly occurrence here, and the more traffic this project draws the more exciting we can make future installments.