I love covers of songs. Not all of them – I hate a) punk covers of songs and b) anything done in the Radio 1 Live Lounge – but there’s something about a good cover that really appeals to me. Maybe it’s the recontextualisation, seeing something familiar in a new light. Maybe it’s the artist’s love of the song shining through that I enjoy. Even more possibly, maybe it’s because people only choose to cover good songs and use their time honed skills to make them sound awesome.
It used to be common for artists to record “covers”. In fact, I think back in the olden days of the 20th Century they just used to be called “songs” and if a “song” was good everyone would record a “version” and the best “version” would be a “hit”. Then, if your a certain school of rock critic, you say the Beatles came along and spoiled everything by making everyone write their own shitty, shitty songs.
Funnily enough, I suck at covers. Suck. This mainly because I barely proficient at playing songs I wrote. But this is another story…
Here are 5 of my favourite covers.
Cat Power – Satisfaction
I could have chosen the Devo version, which is great, but this is better. I didn’t really know Satisfaction when I first heard Cat Power’s version but when I did I was impressed by how she stripped out the chorus and made it a new song. At the time I just thought it was achingly beautiful and defeated the song sounded.
Sun Kil Moon – Tiny Cities
I hated, hated, hated [stop repeating words – ed.] the original of this when I first heard it. Then I heard this – which is sparse and beautiful (I’m going to describe all of these as beautiful). Then I relistened to the original, which I now love. True story. Also, some Modest Mouse fans truly hate this album – possibly because it’s so radically different to the originals, possibly because they’re idiots, who knows?
Clem Snide – Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Your Grievience
One where I had never heard the original. I enjoyed the lyrics and melody and the lovely arrangement. It is lovely. Daniel Johnston is also awesome.
Glen Adams – I Wanna Hold Your Hand
I have a whole boxset of reggae Beatles covers. I’m not sure how I feel about “genre” covers in general. But I think I’m generally pro Trojan Records covers of pop music from the 60s. This is weird and slightly hypnotic.
Hard’n’Phirm – Rodeohead
My opinion on comedy covers? Generally low but seem as though I (almost grudgingly) love comedy music, I love this. Technically excellent, shows how good the Radiohead songs are, funny etc.etc.
The modern age is horrible. That’s a given. But there are some positive aspects to it.
Take being in a band for instance. You can now do it all for “nothing” and on your own terms. You can make believe and day dream and it’s all that little bit more “real”. Part of being in our band is trying to have all the good bits without any of the bits we don’t want. We can write as many songs as we want, record as many albums as we want, draw as many covers as we want, shoot our own videos, release stuff on our record label. We can play one show a year and pretend it’s Wembley.
To quote Robert Pollard (as is obligatory), what we do is
“count the days that we have wasted from the start speak the words and build a playground in [y]our head[s].”
We know we’ll never play Top of the Pops, we know our greatest success is probably behind us (thanks Gideon Coe), we know we’ll never actually be a successful band but we can pretend and we can dream.
So in that spirit we present what is perhaps the world’s first fan-fiction for an album, the one and only SOAP. Yes, it’s slash-fic for the 33 1/3 series, the Continuum series where a writer chooses a “classic” album and writes about it in depth. There’s been about 80 of these bad boys.
Max knew no one would write one about us so, in carrying on in our delusion, we prefer the term “building a playground in our heads”, he wrote one himself as a Christmas present to us all. Enjoy.