Over our time tracking cover songs (13 years this month!), we’ve written about hundreds of new tribute albums, across reviews, news stories, and, when they’re good enough, our best-of-the-year lists. We also have looked back on plenty of great tribute albums from the past in our Cover Classics series. But we’ve never pulled it all together – until now.
Welcome to Cover Me Q&A, where we take your questions about cover songs and answer them to the best of our ability.
Ray Padgett founded Cover Me in 2007. He has a book about cover songs coming out in October (see #9 below) which you can preorder at Amazon.
For the past two weeks, our writers have been writing about the ten cover songs that matter the most to them (catch up here). I will be doing the same, but for me, the list is slightly different. I founded this site ten years ago this year, and the covers that are the most important to me double as the covers that are most important to Cover Me.
Any cover I’ve loved for the past decade has made its way to Cover Me, and many of Cover Me’s milestones became important covers to me – even ones that are basically coincidences. I don’t know how well I’d remember Lucinda Williams’ Shel Silverstein cover otherwise (though it’s worth remembering), but because premiering it was our first post of months of work re-designing and re-launching the site from scratch (RIP covermesongs.blogspot.com), it holds a special place in my heart.
So here are the songs that matter the most to me, which double as a history of this website from its inception to today. Whether you started reading us last week or last decade, thanks for you support all these years. See you in another ten.
– Ray Padgett
Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.
Dan Bern should not be under anyone’s radar. Not only is he an incredibly prolific songwriter — only a small fraction of the thousand or so that he has acknowledged writing have been officially released — he is also an artist, a poet, a novelist, a children’s book author, and a filmmaker. His stage banter and lyrics are funny enough that he could definitely do standup. He has written songs for movies and television, and is a pioneer in online performing. He tours constantly, and what with all of those songs, he probably never plays the same set twice.
In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.
Where I come from, Shel Silverstein was a demigod. —David Mamet
Shel Silverstein was the unofficial poet laureate of everyone’s childhood. His books — The Giving Tree, A Light In the Attic, Where the Sidewalk Ends — were instrumental in showing that kids could handle some of the adult themes in life without becoming degenerates, or maybe even that it was okay to be a degenerate. That’s not to say the bluenoses didn’t try to stop him: A Light in the Attic placed midway in the top 100 books banned from the 1990’s. Some bristled at Silverstein’s adult side, even though he saved his more salacious material for songs and adult poems that weren’t meant for children. That material is definitely a product of the sixties and seventies, detailing everything from every sexual fetish imaginable (“Freakin’ At the Freakers Ball”) to every drug available (“The Perfect High”). Some of it we’ll feature today, the 14th anniversary of his death (or at least of the day they found his body). Read on.
This past weekend held the final two nights of My Morning Jacket’s epic five-night NYC stand. As we’ve already seen after Night 1 (The Tennessee Night), Night 2 (At Dawn), and Night 3 (It Still Moves), the band performed one of their albums in full every night. Refusing to repeat any songs, they encored not with other album tracks, but with rare and unreleased b-sides and covers.
Their shortest disc, Friday night’s Z saw the most epic encore. Eight songs, five of them covers, one of those over ten minutes long. The quintet roared through recent tunes like Shel Silverstein’s “Lullabys, Legends, and Lies” (download the studio recording here) and classic covers like the Who’s “A Quick One While He’s Away.” View the full set list below and watch videos/download MP3s of the ten-minute version of George Michael‘s “Careless Whisper” and “Lullabys.” Other songs added as video surfaces.
Check back this afternoon for Night 5: Evil Urges.
Generations of young people have grown up on Shel Silverstein’s poetry, but many may not know he was also a prolific songwriter. When not churning out classic anthologies like Where the Sidewalk Ends, he penned hits for Johnny Cash (“A Boy Named Sue”) and Dr. Hook (“The Cover of the Rolling Stone”). Twistable, Turnable Man: A Musical Tribute to the Songs of Shel Silverstein cements Silverstein’s songwriting legacy with fifteen new covers by artists old (Kris Kristofferson, John Prine) and new (My Morning Jacket, Andrew Bird).