Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Song of the Week: Cover Songs

I’ve been listening to a lot of cover songs lately. I have no problem with bands covering other bands or musicians work, if done properly.  Beneath all songs and music are the same stories of us humans with our hearts and heads rambling and roaming around our little marble in the universe. So I see covers songs as just the retelling of these familiar stories, like the troubadours of the past moving from city to city sharing old stories mixed in with their own stories, which in turn are passed down too.

Forever Young (org. Bob Dylan) sung by Pete Seeger. This cover song is off the Chimes of Freedom cd benefiting Amnesty International, and just makes me so happy, it’s really beyond words. And the video, I mean how can seeing Pete Seeger, not make you smile until your face hurts, and the second he pulled out his famous banjo (“This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender”), I do believe my  heart swelled out of my body.

Billie Jean (org. Michael Jackson) sung by  The Civil Wars. First all, yes, John Paul White does look like Johnny Depp. Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about this cover, it’s brilliant.  When a cover is done properly, it pays respect to the original, without making it a parody, and adds a little bit of a new voice that just adds to the lastly properties of that story of the song.

 Sound of Silence (org. Simon and Garfunkel) sung by Bryan John Appleby. True story: when I was in high school, the local Oldies radio station run a contest where they asked listeners to send in their top ten playlist. They would pick one each week and play it on the radio and give that listener a free t-shirt. One week they choose my playlist, and at the top of that this list: The Sound of Silence.  I still have the t-shirt.

 Ruby Soho (org. Rancid) sung by Jimmy Cliff.  Rancid is a punk rock band that I listened to a lot during my high school days, believe you me, many days I needed something loud and fast to get through those horrid years. And Rancid is still a band I play when I need extra energy to push through life. Ska, reggae, punk rock, in the terms of music history are very much related, so it is so gleefully fitting that a ska/reggae legend covers a punk rock song. 

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