Thursday, September 11, 2008

Covers - stealing or improving on the great??

People run out of creativity after a while, but the money still needs to flow in somehow. That’s how I see a lot of covers or use of samples in the music business. But there might be another side to it too. Maybe an artist really respects another artist’s work and wants to pay homage somehow. Or maybe their ego is so big that they think they can improve on a classic. Any way you slice it, these are some of my favorite covers/use of samples:

"Feelin’ Good" by Muse, originally written for the musical The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd according to Wikipedia (WTF???) but the Nina Simone version is probably the most well known. Muse recently made it onto my top bands list and I was heartbroken when I had to choose between them and Interpol at Lollapalooza 2007. Needless to say, they are still on my list of bands I need to see before I die.

"Can't Forget About You" by Nas feat. Chrisette Michelle, sample used from "Unforgettable" by Nat King Cole. Thanks Ryan for NOT reminding me about the Nas show last weekend!! Anywho, Chrisette kills it on this song.

"Stronger" by Kanye West, sample used from "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" by Daft Punk. I don't give a dick what anyone says, I love me some Kanye. Mix in some Daft Punk and you've got a masterpiece.

"Killing Me Softly" by The Fugees, cover of original song by Roberta Flack. Ok, yeah. This one is obvious, but it's still one of my favorites.

"Alone Again (Naturally)" by Har Mar Superstar, cover of original song by Gilbert O'Sullivan. I couldn't find a video, but go here to listen to it. It's worth the extra click you lazy asses.

"Inside and Out" by Feist, cover of original song by The Bee Gees.

"One" by Mary J. Blige, original song by U2. Ok, so she had U2 as her backing vocals, but that just proves that she turned this shit out and killed it. Even U2 took the backseat and let Mary drive.


Sofìa Vicuña said...

Nice selections. I'm a cover freak myself. The Lucksmiths did a great cover of "There is a light that never goes out" and you can't go wrong with Aretha's version of Eleanor Rigby. And The Shins' version of "We will become silhouettes." So, so, so many worth mentioning...


cover songs can be a lovely little "gift" from a song you once loved. or they can be incredibly insulting, ridiculous, and bizarre.

i personally love a good cover song! and i love music geek lists in general, so here's mine:

1. the futureheads version of "hounds of love" (kate bush) is a personal fav.

2. radiohead's live cover of the smith's "the headmaster ritual" is good stuff.

3. nick cave doing elvis presley's "in the ghetto"

4. neil finn's "there is a light that never goes out" (with johnny marr!)

5. anything johnny cash covered in those last few albums

6. hem doing elvis costello's "angels wanna wear my red shoes"

7. jill soubule doing warren zevon's "don't let us get sick"

and that brings us to a whole list of tribute albums to consider!

"enjoy every sandwich", the warren zevon tribute album is a bit shakey, but his son does a beautiful version of "studebaker".

"take me home" is a strange and lovely john denver tribute album.

all of mark kozelek's AC/DC cover songs will break yhour heart and make you giggle a little.

ok, i could go on and on (and sort of did.)

i didn't even start listing the bad cover songs...

Felicia said...

Sofia-I don't think I've ever heard Aretha's version of Eleanor Rigby. I'll definitely need to check that out.

Glittergirl-Wow, those are some great suggestions! Thank you for contributing those, and yeah, seriously don't get me started on bad covers either...

Just Joe said...

"Hurt" by Johnny Cash.

Someone had to say it. I've also got a live EP from Death Came for Cutie where they segue from "Blacking Out the Friction" into "Brand New Love" by Sebadoh. I like that a whole lot.

Also, "The Drugs Don't Work" cover by Ben Harper on Live from Mars is very poignant.

Chele said...

this womans work- a cover Maxwell did of Kate Bush

Placebo also did an awesome Hate Bush cover of running up that hill

if it be your will by antony and the johsnons a cover of leonard cohen.

so many great covers...i need to think up some more..there is one i am forgetting but my brain sort of stopped

vespertine said...

ever heard feist and the constantines doing a cover of "islands in the stream"? it's pretty awesome.

Anonymous said...

Romeo and Juliet by The Indigo Girls, they sing it as if they wrote it themselves. Original by Dire Straights (sp?).

I read somewhere in the past that Yesterday by the Beatles is the most covered song in history, and White Christmas is the most recorded cover song.


oh, another song that has been covered ad naseum is leonard cohen's "hallelujah". they are all similar, but i think jeff buckley's is the best.

ok, i'm done commenting now, i swear! until you do the post about bad cover songs...

Anonymous said...

speaking as someone who plays covers, I can tell you my reasoning.
Music is so personal, we listen to a song and apply it to our lives.
It is art, it is therapy, comfort, entertainment and many other things.
I play a cover as if my own (not taking credit of course), but in the sense that I play it as how it applies to me. I play the songs I wish I had written.
Love your blog by the way.

Anonymous said...

Try out the Coverville podcast. If you love covers, you'll love this show.