Sunday, May 8, 2011

Under The Covers - My Ten Favorite Covers Songs

10. Ray Charles performs Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash) on the Johnny Cash Show. This song proves, yet again, that Ray Charles can add a level of soul and passion to any song and elevate it to a new height. I love to watch the way his body moves, especially the feet.

09. We're going to stay on Cash for a second. I remember when I first saw the video for Johnny Cash's cover of Hurt (Trent Reznor). I was awe struck. It was remarkable how Cash interpreted the song and sort of made it his own, the sombre way he delivered it to us. You knew this was a man who recognized his own fate, and was greeting it with such a solemn dignity. I find myself, even now, watching this with a hopeless heart. It's tragic and perfect in one package.

08. Here Keb Mo covers my favorite Robert Johnson tune, and he keeps it simple and very close to original. That is to say, he doesn't ruin it. Here's Love In Vain (Robert Johnson)

07. I like it sometimes when bands take liberties with a cover song. Here Death Cab For Cutie does just that with Rockin Chair (The Band). I love this song because it reminds me of some pretty good times working at Hastings, but also because of the part at the end where the line "Oh to be home again!" is sang over and over. Very powerful.

06. Cat Power did a cover of Fortunate Son (C.C.R.). I'm not a huge C.C.R. fan, but Cat Powers voice couples with this salty blues piano makes this a very very good cover.

05. Bonnie Prince Bill does an R. Kelly song? Fuck yes he does! And he does it better than R. Kelly ever could. I love this song for a lot of reasons (mainly because it reminds me of Hole In The Wall), but I especially love the person who did the video for this song...very clever. Here's The World's Greatest (R. Kelly).

04. It takes a lot of balls for someone to cover Jimi Hendrix and to do it well. SRV not only pulls it off, but does arguably a better job than Hendrix. Here's Voodoo Chile Slight Return (Jimi Hendrix).

03. A lot of people have covered Dylan and covered Dylan very well, but I think of all of them this is my favorite - Stevie Wonder doing Blowin in the Wind. There is a lot of talking before the singing starts...just skip to 3:00 and you'll be fine. Here is Stevie Wonder with Blowin in the Wind (Bob Dylan).

02. My friend Paul Nelson posted this song earlier tonight. He defied anyone to feel bitter after listening to it. It's one of those covers that elevates the original version to another place that we didn't expect or think of, like a change in conversation. I think Iz's voice is fucking beautiful, and his uke is masterful. If it wasn't for the next song I would say it was my favorite cover of all time. Here is Israel Kamakawiwo'ole with Over The Rainbow (Arlen/Harburg)

01. There are very few covers that I think are better than the original. This is one, and I'm not going to say much about it, only that it takes me to some very emotional places because it's a son that definitely has some memories attached to it, and because the singer's voice, mixed with the lone electric guitar, is so haunting. In fact at one point toward the end he hits a note while singing and holds it for what seems like forever. I could live in that forever. Here is Jeff Buckley with Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen).

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