At Friday night’s Yo La Tengo show at Chicago’s Metro, fans got a surprise when the trio covered Wilco’s “If I Ever Was a Child” as the third song in their first set. Fans got a much bigger surprise a set and a half later when all six members of Wilco, on an off night in their own local residency, joined Yo La Tengo on stage for four more (non-Wilco) covers.
Avril Lavigne & All Time Low – All the Small Things (Blink 182 cover)
One way you can tell millennials are getting old: There are now nostalgia-bait festivals catering to the music of their (our) youth. Such was the case with When We Were Young, the emo and pop-punk fest in Vegas a couple weeks ago with Paramore, My Chemical Romance, Bright Eyes, and dozens more. A video high point is this extremely fun and infectious cover of “All the Small Things” by All Time Low and Avril Lavigne, performed right after Blink 182 announced they were getting back together. Best part: When the entire crowd hollers alone to “Work sucks / I know”!
Avhath – Cool / Levitating / Don’t Start Now (Dua Lipa covers)
What’s better than one Indonesian black-metal Dua Lipa cover? Three Indonesian black-metal Dua Lipa covers! Not that you’d ever know these were Dua Lipa songs unless you were listening really closely to the lyrics (and could manage to make them out).
The Band of Heathens – El Paso City (Marty Robbins cover)
During lockdown, Band of Heathens hosted a regular livestream variety show called Good Time Supper Club. One segment, “Remote Transmissions,” featured them covering a new song every episode – over 50 in all. They’re collecting some of the best on a forthcoming album of the same name: Remote Transmissions. “Making records is always about cataloging any point in time. We wanted to celebrate the unique collaborative aspect of the show,” guitarist Ed Jurdi told American Songwriter. “What better way to document the last year than with these songs?” First up is this take on a Marty Robbins country classic.
Back in May 2021, Fountains of Wayne guitarist Jody Porter organized a tribute to his late bandmate Adam Schlesinger. Adam Schlesinger, A Music Celebration featured, among many others, Courtney Love, R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, Squeeze’s Glenn Tilbrook, Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba, Sean Ono Lennon, and a reunion of Schlesinger’s supergroup Tinted Windows. At the time, it was a paid livestream to raise money for musician charity MusiCares and then-closed NYC venue Bowery Electric, but now the full thing is up on YouTube. It’s a tribute to the depth of Schlesinger’s catalog that it’s two hours long and no one even covered “Stacy’s Mom”!
Austin City Limits held their 7th annual Hall of Fame ceremony in the fall of 2021, inducting the likes of Lucinda Williams, Alejandro Escovedo and Wilco as new members of the ACL pantheon. The ceremony premiered on PBS stations across the U.S. last weekend. One of the special’s flagship performances, featured ahead of the broadcast over at Consequence, found Wilco performing “California Stars” alongside a host of guest musicians present for the ceremony — among them, Mermaid Avenue collaborator Billy Bragg, Japanese Breakfast, Jason Isbell, Margo Price and Sheila E. A bit deeper into the proceedings, though, was an even more striking performance: Bill Callahan covering “Sky Blue Sky,” drawn from Wilco’s seminal 2007 album of the same name.
Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
The message that there is a place for everyone in this world, no matter what challenges they have to endure, is cathartic. Daniel Johnston struggled with finding his own path through the wilderness, often pressured by society or the medical establishment to imitate whatever their normal was. His music spoke to everyone universally, beamed out to our worlds and beyond. His songs and personality made him a beloved son of Austin, along with the similarly troubled Roky Erickson. Their flaws and strengths melded together: insight, folly, madness, anxiety, and joy, connecting them to people who went through the same shit they did, just not as scaled up or fucked up.
From great pain comes great music.
Johnston’s stories are legendary, from removing the keys and throwing them out of a small plane his father was flying (spoiler alert: they lived), to becoming famous simply because Kurt Cobain wore a t-shirt with Johnston’s cartoon frog on it. He struggled to sell records and find an audience, but the music industry wasn’t seeing him—they were looking for the next Seattle.
“True Love Will Find You in the End” is certainly an oft-covered song; I listened to snippets of easily a couple of hundred versions to find my favorites below. I can’t defend my choices for being the best, as the nuances that speak to me may not speak to you. But every single artist here stutters, “The light, the light,” and that became a must have for this collection. I hope you believe them all.