Covers "Specialists?"

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Covers "Specialists?"

Postby Arlene » Thu Mar 26, 2009 4:36 pm

Thought this was an interesting quote by a San Francisco music critic:

"Stop Dragging My Heart Around": I can name four artists -- Emmylou Harris, Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson and Nicks -- who I'd actually rather hear doing covers, because they're capable of making other people's songs their own pretty much every time. It's like musical eminent domain. (Does "Respect" even belong to Otis Redding any more, or is it Aretha's now?) Even out of key, Nicks now owns this Tom Petty song, which I would have previously thought impossible.

Not sure about this writer's preference for these artists doing covers-- I also enjoy all four singer performing songs they've written themselves-- but I understand and agree with his point about the superior ability of these four to make other people's songs their own. HOWEVER, I would DEFININTELY add Patty Griffin to his list of artists with this ability ....)
"You've got to sing like you don't need the money, love like you'll never get hurt. You've got to dance like no one is watching. It's gotta come from the heart, if you want it to work."
~Susannah Clark

"Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels." ~Molly Ivins

"If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner."
~Tallulah Bankhead

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Postby lily » Thu Mar 26, 2009 6:04 pm

I absolutely agree, Patty can take a song and make it entirely her own.

I would have to disagree with the writer on Stevie Nicks' ability to cover songs successfully... with the exception of SDMHA (which I really don't count as a cover so much as a song written for her to sing - not really the same thing... same with "Sometimes It's A Bitch") and the other Tom Petty songs (namely "I Need To Know") she does, her covers tend to fail horrifically... like when she tried to do "I Still Miss Someone," "Just Like A Woman," or the really unfortunate Led Zeppelin covers she's been doing at her solo shows (I think Heart is the only other band that should ever attempt Zeppelin).

As much as I love her, she sticks with super safe carbon-copies that don't work very well for her.

Of course, the stuff she covers WITH other artists usually rocks, like Warren Zevon's "Reconsider Me" with Don Henley, "It's Late" or that "Red River Valley" she did with Chris Isaak on his show recently... HOT.

I'd also add Shawn Colvin, Asleep at the Wheel/Ray Benson, Bonnie Raitt (if for no other reason than "Thing Called Love") and Neko Case to the list.

But, my absolute #1 spot on the "covers specialist" list will forever and always be Linda Ronstadt, no questions asked.
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Postby Rongrittz » Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:48 pm

lily wrote:I'd also add Shawn Colvin


Definitely agree with that. Coincidentally, I was listening to her "Cover Girl" CD on the way to work this morning. Her covers of "Someday" and "Twilight" just blow me away. I remember seeing her do a co-bill with John Gorka at the Turning Point in Piermont, NY, back in the mid-80's where she did versions of Richard Thompson's "Wall of Death" and Paul Simon's "American Tune" that rivaled the originals. I actually have a cassette tape of the show somewhere (I smuggled in a tape recorder) that I should definitely hunt around for.

Richard Shindell is someone else who does incredible covers.
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Postby RightOverThisMess » Fri Mar 27, 2009 6:29 am

Tori Amos does a fantastic job covering songs (Famous Blue Raincoat, A Case of You, Strange Fruit, etc.)
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Postby Arlene » Fri Mar 27, 2009 7:30 am

Margo Timmims and Cowboy Junkies also do amazing covers.
"You've got to sing like you don't need the money, love like you'll never get hurt. You've got to dance like no one is watching. It's gotta come from the heart, if you want it to work."
~Susannah Clark

"Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels." ~Molly Ivins

"If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner."
~Tallulah Bankhead

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Postby elcorazon » Fri Mar 27, 2009 8:13 am

other great "cover artists":

tim o'brien
gillian welch
beatles

but ultimately, I'm with arlene... Patty's covers are as good as anyone's. The thing with Patty is her originals are just as good, usually even better.
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Postby Annika » Fri Mar 27, 2009 10:17 am

Kasey Chambers loves to do covers too. She has released covers like Son Volt's Tear Stained Eye, Counting Crows' Round Here, Dolly Parton's Little Sparrow.

And also when she played with her family in Dead Ringer Band they did amazing versions of for example: Sin City, If I needed You, Emmylou's Born To Run and Return of the Grievous Angel.

Plus all the covers she's done live.
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Postby Browncoat » Fri Mar 27, 2009 11:55 am

Peter Mulvey is a damn fine specialist. In my opinion, his cover of Gillian Welch's "Caleb Meyer" kicks the original's ass in every way. In fact, so does his cover of "Rain and Snow" (as compared to The Be Good Tanyas)... and Dar Williams's "The Ocean"... a many others that I'm probably forgetting...
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Postby Annika » Fri Mar 27, 2009 1:33 pm

Browncoat wrote:Peter Mulvey is a damn fine specialist. In my opinion, his cover of Gillian Welch's "Caleb Meyer" kicks the original's ass in every way.


Can you find that on an album somewhere??? Caleb Meyer is my favorite Gillian Welch-song... :-)
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Postby Arlene » Fri Mar 27, 2009 1:54 pm

Annika wrote:
Browncoat wrote:Peter Mulvey is a damn fine specialist. In my opinion, his cover of Gillian Welch's "Caleb Meyer" kicks the original's ass in every way.


Can you find that on an album somewhere??? Caleb Meyer is my favorite Gillian Welch-song... :-)

It's on his Ten Thousand Mornings CD. (FYI. In addition, The Greencards covered Caleb Meyer on their Movin' On CD, and Red Molly covered it on Never Been to Vegas: Live.) I actually have a playlist on my iPod of artists covering Gillian Welch....
"You've got to sing like you don't need the money, love like you'll never get hurt. You've got to dance like no one is watching. It's gotta come from the heart, if you want it to work."
~Susannah Clark

"Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels." ~Molly Ivins

"If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner."
~Tallulah Bankhead

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Postby sfboy » Fri Mar 27, 2009 2:59 pm

OK, I couldn't just let this thread go by without commenting. By now you all know that I'm a huge Stevie fan. So...

I mostly agree with the previous comments. Stevie is NOT a great, or even good, cover artist. Her cover of Free Fallin' is particularly bad. She should really only sing what she writes. And I don't know about you all, but for me singing a song that someone else wrote but which hasn't been released is different from doing a cover that has (and may or may not be well known). Stop Draggin' My Heart Around was recorded by TP and the H, but it had never been released, so Stevie's version (w/ Tom) was the first version that most people had ever heard. To me, that doesn't really count as a cover, or at least, not in the same way as doing a song which someone has made famous. And, she was NOT out of key when she sang that song! Whichever SF writer (God, why did he/she have to be from SF? :( ) wrote that is really clueless.
As for Patty, well, when I hear Patty doing covers live, I usually love them, but I'd still rather hear her sing her own songs. To me, her own material is infinitely more moving than anything that anyone else writes.

As for other cover artists...
I love the Private Dancer CD by Tina Turner, which is made of covers and songs that were written for her.
I also love Tori Amos's covers, especially of A Case of You, Smells Like Teen Spirit, and yes, back to Stevie, Landslide. And she does the best version of the Little Drummer Boy that I've ever heard.
I usually like to stay positive, but a bad cover is just about the worst thing a musician can do. So here is my nomination: Carly Simon (who I adore)'s version of Angel From Montgomery from her boxed set. Feel free to keep the list going. Carly, Carly, Carly, who in the heck let you sing that song that way and then put it out on CD?
Runners up?

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Postby Annika » Fri Mar 27, 2009 3:17 pm

Arlene wrote:
Annika wrote:
Browncoat wrote:Peter Mulvey is a damn fine specialist. In my opinion, his cover of Gillian Welch's "Caleb Meyer" kicks the original's ass in every way.


Can you find that on an album somewhere??? Caleb Meyer is my favorite Gillian Welch-song... :-)

It's on his Ten Thousand Mornings CD. (FYI. In addition, The Greencards covered Caleb Meyer on their Movin' On CD, and Red Molly covered it on Never Been to Vegas: Live.) I actually have a playlist on my iPod of artists covering Gillian Welch....


Thanks.
There was an amazing CM-cover on Youtube by some people in a living room a while back but it's not there anymore. :-( And I don't remember their names or anything...
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Postby lily » Fri Mar 27, 2009 7:32 pm

sfboy wrote: (Stevie's) cover of Free Fallin' is particularly bad. ...

And I don't know about you all, but for me singing a song that someone else wrote but which hasn't been released is different from doing a cover that has (and may or may not be well known).

I usually like to stay positive, but a bad cover is just about the worst thing a musician can do. So here is my nomination: Carly Simon (who I adore)'s version of Angel From Montgomery from her boxed set. Feel free to keep the list going. Carly, Carly, Carly, who in the heck let you sing that song that way and then put it out on CD?
Runners up?


Oh good lord, I had forgotten all about Free Fallin' - *shudders* that was bad.

And you're totally right about the "first time" syndrome - it doesn't really count as a cover unless the artist is actually covering a released song - or even a largely known song - example being Reba singing "Up and Flying" versus the DCs covering "Truth #2"

And more to add to the awful covers list: anything Willie's done with reggae -- or covering Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time...

Also, Cat Power does some pretty amazing covers - when she does them right they're fantastic - Sea of Love for example

And just about everything on the "It'll Come To You" album of John Hiatt covers is incredible.

And what about bands covering themselves... IMO, the Lindsey Buckingham version of "Oh Well" blows the Peter Green one out of the water... but I can't think of another example of a band with a non-original lineup that does their own songs better as a result off the top of my head.
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Postby Rongrittz » Fri Mar 27, 2009 9:12 pm

sfboy wrote:Stevie is NOT a great, or even good, cover artist. Her cover of Free Fallin' is particularly bad. She should really only sing what she writes.


I'll tell ya . . . at this point, I'm not even sure she should be doing THAT.
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Postby TontoBronto » Sat Mar 28, 2009 6:37 am

lily wrote:...And more to add to the awful covers list: anything Willie's done with reggae -- or covering Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time...

I'm not sure how many covers there have been, but I actually love at least three of them--Eva Cassidy, jazz singer Cassandra Wilson and Miles Davis' instrumental version. I don't prefer any of them to Lauper's version though.

And what about bands covering themselves... IMO, the Lindsey Buckingham version of "Oh Well" blows the Peter Green one out of the water... ....
OK, NOW you're REALLY in trouble. :wink:
I don't really like modern Mac (even though I bought their computer), but I was pleasantly surprised how well Buckingham carried off the cover. Still, I wouldn't prefer it to the Peter Green. Oh well, guess opinions differ.
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