Sunday, May 31, 2009

I was tagged with that covers meme...

Damn you JLK, damn you to hades!!1!!!

All right - the problem we have here, is that there are several covers I really love and in the interest of saying fuck you, to internet memes, I am posting them all. This is not, as one might assume, a comprehensive list of my favorite covers - just my very favorites.

And to totally be an asshole, I'll post a couple that aren't covers.

My very favorite covers all share one thing in common, with one exception. I love the covers considerably more than the original and of all covers of those songs, the one posted is my favorite. The exception, is Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. This is quite possibly my favorite song ever and I am posting two versions of it, which are the very best versions. Jeff Buckley's is probably my favorite between the two, but it is only by a small margin and really only because I have a much easier time singing along with him than with KD Lang. Both are just incredible renditions and both Buckley and Lang were/are absolutely exceptional vocalists (KD Lang is totally on my top ten list of absolute best female vocalists).

But before we go to the rest of my favorite covers, here's my favorite cover from my old band Nackt, recorded roughly fourteen years ago.



Because embedded videos always fuck with the format of my blog, I am going to post them below the fold. That, and with the videos, this post takes up a lot of space...

More...

First up, is my very first favorite cover. I have loved this song since I was about eleven and before I even knew that Sting didn't write it. I should mention now that as horrible as it might sound, I actually don't get all that excited about most of Jimmy Hendrix more popular stuff that is rife with distortion. Don't get me wrong, I still love a few of them - mainly ones that were a running theme when I was tripping or simply really stoned with dear friends, but by far I prefer his acoustic work.

I really don't care for his version of "Little Wing" though - or anyone else's. It's not that they suck or anything, it's just that every other version of this song that I hear is compared to this one and found wanting in comparison. Sting is rather remarkably arrogant - pathologically arrogant even - but there is a fucking reason...



Another horror to admit - I absolutely despise Bob Dylan the musician. I certainly have a fondness for Bob Dylan the songwriter, but his voice fucking grates my nerves and his guitar playing isn't anything to write home about either (not that he's bad, but he's certainly not good enough to make up for his abysmal singing).

OTOH, I absolutely love U2. And mid to late 80's U2 was just fucking badass. Bono was possibly the only popular musician to pick up the mantle of "the man in black" without looking like a total wannabe ripoff of the venerable Johnny Cash. And of course Cash later validated this by recording with U2 on Zooropa and covering "One."

So U2's "All Along the Watchtower" is by far the best rendering ever. Bono is every inch the badass motherfucking rock-god, bringing this song to rock-anthem greatness, with The Edge driving this song harder than ever before...



And I'll now admit to yet another sacrilege - I absolutely hate the fucking Beatles. Seriously. "Helter Skelter" is one of the few Beatles songs I like and that only because U2 covered it and covered it really fucking well...



Now there are a lot of people who would argue that the next one isn't really a cover. But while it's true that very few people have heard the original and Johnette Napolitano actually backs Andy Prieboy on the original recording of "Tomorrow Wendy," it is still a cover. And actually, the original is pretty good too, though Napolitano is a much better vocalist who graces my top ten list of favorite female vocalists.



And for good measure, here's the original...



Now we come towards the end. But before we get to the covers of Cohen songs, I would like to throw Leonard Cohen himself into the mix. The last of my favorite covers are Cohen songs and I don't think it's fair to leave him out simply because he didn't really do covers. Leonard Cohen is a songwriting giant, though he never reached the levels of fame that many who played his music ever did. He also happens to be right up at the top of my list of favorite songwriters, second only to Neil Young.

Apologies for the strange video in the background, but it was the only youtube I could find of "Chelsea Hotel #2," one of my favorites by Cohen. While there are those who would claim that it is rather unsentimental, I am certainly not one of them. I think it is first, a beautiful descriptive of the experience of those who exist in a world of fame and fortune, who find the intimacy that they can with who they can. And it is also quite obvious that his experience with Janis Joplin was a beautiful intimate moment - just because he doesn't "think of her that often" doesn't mean that when he does, it isn't important to him. People don't always think about lovers who affected them profoundly all that often.

And clenching your fist for the ones like us
who are oppressed by the figures of beauty
...

Nuff said...



And here's Cohen's own version of Hallelujah...



Now we'll return to Concrete Blonde. This is a fucking awesome live version of "Everybody Knows," performed acoustic - just Napolitano and Mankey.



KD Lang - I just absolutely love her voice and the obvious passion she performs with...



And then there is Jeff Buckley...A fucking remarkable musician who grew up with musicians and died way too fucking young...

15 comments:

Stephanie Zvan said...

Yay! Now I don't feel so bad about leaving out Napolitano covers.

DuWayne Brayton said...

Indeed. I actually thought about Nick Cave, but honestly put him in the second tier - which is probably horrifying but also true. If I went there I would have had to add some Velvet Underground and I figure eleven songs was plenty...

Michael said...

In more fanciful moments, I sometimes wish that one day it will be revealed that Jeff Buckley had a son no one knows about yet, in much the same way that most of Tim Buckley's east coast friends and collegues didn't know he had a son until Jeff showed up at a memorial gathering for Tim in Brooklyn.

That, and that one way or another, k.d. lang will get pregnant.

Dan J said...

How about Napolitano singing "Hurting Each Other" (original by The Carpenters)? One of my favorite covers.

Abby Normal said...

OMG, I haven't thought of "Tomorrow Wendy" in years. I loved that song, gave me goosebumps every time. Now, listing to it for probably the first time in over a decade, it still does.

You know, I think this comment may be the first time I've ever typed "OMG." Yeesh, one little Concrete Blonde song and I've reverted to a teenager. Eww, is that a pimple?

So, like anyway, isn't Leonard Cohen like totally awesome?!! "I'm Your Man" just turns me to goo. Soooo sexy. [swoon]

And you know who else is wicked cool? Tori Amos! Since this is about, like covers, right? The first time I ever heard her she was doing a cover of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and she just totally blew me away man.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaAI3jI7uCc

Oh yea, and have you heard her cover of Eminem's "97 Bonnie and Clyde"? It was like all ultra creepy and stuff because it's like a creepy song to begin with and then you like throw in that voice and the piano and it was like... burrrrrrr! So cool.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDTdfkwByic

Okay, I've gotten it out of my system now. Time to go back to being a grown-up. Or at least the reasonable approximation I've manged to achieve so far.

DuWayne Brayton said...

Abby -

I used to cover "Tomorrow Wendy" and since you brought her up, we also covered "Crucify". I actually sang "Wendy" no differently than Napolitano, though due to issues with me hitting the high notes consistently, we took the capo off for "Crucify."

We tried to develop a workable version of "I'm Your Man," but that never panned and as much as I love "Chelsea Hotel #2," it just isn't a coverable sort of song. We also learned "Vampire Song," but I was never good at remembering the words. We did a lot of improv and I could never remember that that was what we were playing when that one came up - we didn't intro it like Concrete Blonde.

Michael -

That would be spiffy, but I have a feeling that Lang is just a little past that stage...

All right Dan - consider yourself tagged...I wasn't going to do that to anyone, but since you mentioned it.

Jason Thibeault said...

Nackt's cover of Helpless is absolutely haunting. If you're the vocalist, consider me a fan -- actually, hell, the lead guitarist too. I'm reminded of the first time I heard Gary Jules' cover of Mad World in fact, with regard to the chill that went down my spine.

Also, OH GOD HOW I LOVE U2's WATCHTOWER!! Rock and roll does indeed stop the traffic.

Heh. I guess I should go post some covers that I really like, too. What's a meme if it's not spread virally through a community?

DuWayne Brayton said...

Hah, the vocals would in fact be me and your desription/comparison is greatly appreciated...I'll pass your sentiments to the guitar player, when I see him the weekend after the next - to record some new music...

Dan J said...

"All right Dan - consider yourself tagged...I wasn't going to do that to anyone, but since you mentioned it."

Nothing wrong with spreading the love around. Now I just have to try to find embeddable versions of some rather obscure covers.

Abby Normal said...

BTW, I know it's a long shot, but I'll be making my annual sojourn to upstate NY at the end of this month to attend the Old Songs Music Festival.
http://oldsongs.org/festival/index.html

I'll be putting down a tent and camp out there all three days. So if anyone reading this is in the area and planning to attend, or interested in attending now that you're aware of it, speak up and lets arrange a meeting. I love getting to know new people. Plus we can talk about DuWayne behind his back and hatch nefarious schemes embarrass him. Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Mine is an evil laugh.

DuWayne Brayton said...

You do realize Abby, that it is virtually impossible to embarrass me? It's not that I'm incapable of embarrassment - but I haven't been embarrassed by the actions of someone else since I was a child...

Have the big fun...

Dan J said...

My cover meme response is up: three good and one bad. So tough to choose.

Embarrass DuWayne? Please, can I watch? (Only so that I could laugh with him about it later)

Abby Normal said...

@DuWayne

Ha! When I first wrote that comment it included the following at the end:

(Okay, maybe not that last bit, as I'm not sure DuWayne can be embarrassed by anyone but himself.)

But I deleted it at the last minute because plotting to embarrass you was just a "punch and pie" comment. More people will come if they think there will be punch and pie. Just one of the many lessons I've learned from the great and wise Cartman.

But now that the gauntlet has been picked up I'm thinking honor demands that I make good. The trick will be setting up a situation where you're likely to embarrass yourself, rather than attempting to do it directly. Hmm, I'm going to need a chimp, a garden hose, 50 boxes of instant banana pudding, and a rodeo clown. But I've said too much. ;-)

DuWayne Brayton said...

Unless that was intended as obfuscation, you're going in entirely the wrong direction.

Think; one hundred gallons of goats blood, one hundred gallons of emu piss, fifty pounds of peanut butter, an elephant and Oprah - that'd be a start anyways....

Dan J said...

I was thinking "Where's the embarrassment?" until you mentioned Oprah. *shudder*