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.
According to some anthropologists, it is our ability to group things that makes us human. We can differentiate and distinguish things not only by a single feature (“a cat”, say) but by many. We can even group disparate things. Both a bear and a chocolate bar are brown; a steak and a chocolate bar are both foods. Apparently this gives us a massive evolutionary advantage over the other animals, the poor saps, as we can then use this information to make well informed decisions.
With this in mind I am exercising my humanity by pointlessly cataloguing bands I like! Woo!
I’ve made a “Music Mountain” (patent pending).. – where I’ve put my favourite band who’ve made one album* on the top, favourite band who made 2 albums second and so on.
I did nine bands originally and then I thought, “that’s not enough, there’s barely even insane.” So I upped it to 17. And yes there are some shitty albums in there. Out of the 153 albums….
*by album I mean studio or all live album with previously unrecorded music on it.
The bands in order are:
1 album – Young Marble Giants
2 albums – Neutral Milk Hotel
3 albums – Boards Of Canada
4 albums – The Smiths
5 albums – Pavement
6 albums – Red House Painters
7 albums – Husker Du
8 albums – Radiohead
9 albums – Dinosaur Jr.
10 albums – The Magnetic Fields
11 albums – The Beatles
12 albums – Captain Beefheart
13 albums – The Flaming Lips
14 albums – The Mountain Goats
15 albums – R.E.M.
16 albums – Sonic Youth
17 albums – Guided By Voices
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