Friday Night Covers


Truth be told, cover songs are an obsession. Not the debilitating obsessive compulsive sort; more the kick back, work doesn’t beckon till 2 pm Saturday afternoon kind. In my world diversionary cover quests are like panning for gold, every so often a nugget winks back. Most valuable – songs I wasn’t looking for, covers transforming ordinary to extraordinary. Bells ring when covers of radio station changing originals smack me in the face. A classic example –

Searching for cover breaks my heart one moment, warms it the next. Ponder this –

A handful twinkle brilliantly beside originals from the soundtrack of my life –

Very late now, Friday night cover concludes with Playing For Change covering Bob Marley –

Hunting For Cover


Hunting for the best cover of Bob Dylan’s Knocking On Heavens Door dominated well over an hour this evening. Concluding every version has merit, led to pondering why the original hadn’t factored in the quest. ( that’s an exaggeration, in truth I went “huh” mid hunt and clicked on more covers).

Some time later it came to me – certain songs are destined to carry weight from generation to generation. Lyrical plucks of conscience, melodic fists erupting from belly aches of social injustice. Here’s the thing, Knocking On Heavens Door is an anomaly – it wasn’t born a protest anthem. Dylan’s now metaphorical heaven of consequence, was penned for a movie soundtrack.

Bob Dylan wrote and sang Knocking On Heavens Door for the soundtrack of  1973’s movie Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. In the film it played as the voice of a deputy sheriff, dying of bullet wounds, telling his wife “Mama take this badge off of me”.

Mama, take this badge off of me
’cause I can’t use it anymore.
It’s gettin’ dark, too dark to see
I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door.

Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door

Mama, put that gun to the ground
’cause I can’t shoot them anymore.
There’s a long black cloud comin’ on down
I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door.

Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door

I don’t care if a definitive cover exists. Hunting for cover reminded me – music is protests’ mightiest weapon.

Argh!

Best and Worst Cover Ponder


Nirvana’s  Smells Like Teen Spirit is one of those songs defining a generation. Insert any cliche you like – iconic anthem, pivotal, groundbreaking – doesn’t make a lick of difference, it’s a great song. As with all great tracks, it’s only a matter of time before covers pay tribute.

Songs of this magnitude require artistic interpretation, confidence to express alternate creative visions without slaughtering the original. Tonight I heard Richard Cheese’s version for the first time. Initial reaction smacked of “holy crap, this is bat shit genius” (to put it in context, I was working a wedding and impressed when the DJ slipped it in between Billie Jean and Sweet Home Alabama ). Home finds me vacillating between worst cover ever and brilliant – what would Kurt Cobain think?

Richard Cheese and Lounge Against The Machine

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Cheese

Until I put my finger on it, listening to Patti Smith’s cover ( if there’s a better one I haven’t found it ) makes things right.

Cover Songs #2


The flip side to stumbling upon a great cover of a song you love is the amazing version of a lame, stinky song that made the bile rise into your mouth. John Travolta and Olivia Newton John singing You’re The One That I Want from Grease is enough to make me chuck. Angus and Julia Stone performing the same thing spreads a grin from ear to ear – go figure.