May 012024
 
lilo

Christie Gardner and Helen Dixon are a dynamic duo full of dulcet melodies and harmonies inside a lush bed of sound. The English group recently performed the Simon and Garfunkel tune “Homeward Bound” for Best Fit’s secret sessions at the End of The Road Festival (an annual fest in England that focuses on independent music). Continue reading »

Oct 122023
 
japanese breakfast only living boy

At their recent show at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, indie rockers Japanese Breakfast surprised the sell out crowd with a cover of Simon & Garfunkel‘s “The Only Living Boy in New York”.

The cover itself is pretty straight forward, with little stylistically changed from the original, but this does really highlight the power of frontwoman Michelle Zauner’s voice. The Beatles’ style harmonies from the original are retained, but take on an almost dreamlike quality with Zauner and her keyboardist’s voices mixing in the open air of the hall. I for one will be hoping that a studio recording of this appears soon, or at the very least a live album quality recording.

Check out the cover here (starts at 1:07:04):

Apr 282023
 
most popular covers

At Cover Me, our goal is to share great covers, whether they comes from artists with ten fans or ten million. But I am always vaguely curious what cover songs break out, which among the thousands we hear each year become genuine hits.

I was reminded of this when a recent Country Now headline crossed my Google Alerts: “Luke Combs’ ‘Fast Car’ Cover Is A Streaming Giant.” After only a month, the country star’s fairly faithful take on Tracy Chapman’s 1988 classic has racked up 33 million streams in the U.S. alone. Covers by famous singers come and go, but this one clearly has staying power.

So I decided to try to figure out which other covers from the 21st century have reached this level of breakout success. I’m not privy to Billboard‘s deep-dive chart data, so I used an easy metric available to an amateur like myself: Seeing how many plays something has on Spotify. As good a measure for “a popular song” as you can probably get these days, albeit still imperfect.

I found twenty-four 21st-century covers with over 100 million U.S. streams as of this writing (April 2023). Some very popular covers didn’t quite make the 100m+ threshold: Weezer’s “Africa” (75 million), Iron & Wine’s “Such Great Heights” (76 million), Fall Out Boy and John Mayer’s “Beat It” (89 million). Ryan Adams’ “Wonderwall” only just crossed the 100 million streams mark in the past couple months. And while older covers obviously have an advantage in more time to rack up plays, number one — by a lot! — came out only a few years ago.

Here’s the list of 24. No commentary since, for once, we’re not unearthing buried treasures here. Let’s count down the 24 most-streamed covers on Spotify, with the year of release and number of streams as of this writing. (And it’s possible, even likely, I missed a few, so feel free to suggest additions in the comments — if they qualify, I’ll add ’em.)
Continue reading »

Jun 182021
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

Shawn Colvin covers

We shine the spotlight on an artist who has won acclaim for her own songwriting—including a song of the year and record of the year Grammy—but who has been overlooked as an interpretive artist. Cover Me readers, let’s show Shawn Colvin some love. She has released not one but four albums of covers (if you count the Holiday song collection and the collection of children’s lullabies). And those are just the start: we can also look at covers she has inserted onto albums otherwise devoted to her own material, and listen to her guest appearances on other artists’ cover projects.
Continue reading »

May 142021
 

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

Cecilia covers

Eddie Simon started it. He was with his brother Paul at the house on Blue Jay Way where George Harrison had been inspired to write the song of that name. Now Art Garfunkel had rented it for a few months, and there were a few festive evenings there in the summer of ’69. One night, Eddie started banging out a rhythm on a piano bench, and it proved so infectious that everyone there joined in, banging along with whatever they could find. They taped the track, and Paul kept returning to its ebullience. When he brought it into the studio, he and producer Roy Halee made a loop of one section, to which Paul added lyrics that literally went from heartbreak to jubilation.

“The whole thing was a piece of fluff,” he later said. “But magical fluff.” Indeed, the song was as sexy as Simon and Garfunkel ever got, and as one biographer later put it, “the song’s thwacking, thumping battery of percussion felt like an ad-hoc group of street-musician drummers pounding away in Central Park.” As Bridge Over Troubled Water‘s third single, the song went top-five in America and remains a classic rock favorite.
Continue reading »

Feb 262021
 
Racoon Racoon

If there’s a Simon & Garfunkel song that is appropriate for the year New York City had in 2020, it’s “The Only Living Boy in New York.” Written by Paul Simon when Art Garkunkel ran off to film Catch-22 during the making of Bridge Over Troubled Water, the song expresses Simon’s feelings of loneliness, solitude and freedom as he begins to realize that their partnership may be over and they will both be doing their own thing. Sure, it’s not a direct translation to the situation many New Yorkers found themselves in multiple times in 2020, but a number of the lyrics resonate with being stuck in a lockdown or walking empty streets. Continue reading »