Covered in Greatness

Among the many things I love are well-done cover songs.  I don’t love slavish recreations – what I love is when an artist takes a song (the more iconic or seemingly tied to its original style and arrangement the better) and makes it something completely different, but equally great (or better) than the original.  Because I’m a giver, here are some of my favorites, in no particular order:

“Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” – The Indigo Girls: Yes, I love acoustic music, and this song strips back the Elton John classic to something simple and spare.

“Comfortably Numb” – Dar Williams with Ani DiFranco: Not only does this take the trippy original to an entirely new place, according to Williams, she wanted to work with DiFranco on this tune, but schedules weren’t working out. Then, “…we sent the files off to her and she added her own thing to it and sent them back with no direction from us. She really just nailed it. I almost felt like she was reading my mind.” I love this.

“Stairway to Heaven” – Dolly Parton: I know some people loathe this. I love it.  Bluegrass cover of a rock classic? See the opening paragraph of this piece.

“Stairway to Heaven” – Heart: Do the haters like this one better? Because if you don’t love this, I’m afraid I don’t know what to say.

“Will it Go Round in Circles” – Martin Sexton: My cousin Britt Connors (have you bought her new album? If not, why not?) and I found this artist independently of one another. It’s an example of the fact that my family apparently has a dominant gene for “musical inclinations.”

“Enjoy the Silence” – Anberlin: Taking a Depeche Mode song into this century. Discovered by me via a teen supernatural soap opera.  I am very fancy, you see.

“Oops I Did it Again” – Richard Thompson: Possibly the apotheosis of my first paragraph.

“Crazy” – Shawn Colvin: Or this may be the apotheosis. Take your pick.

“Eye in the Sky” – Jonatha Brooke: Brooke does this one in concert, explaining that she started it when she was opening for Joe Cocker in France because nobody knew her or her music.  She said she could see people frowning, thinking, “I know zees… what eez zees?”

“Running up that Hill” – Placebo: Kate Bush by way of a band I had never heard of.

“What is Love” – Duncan Sheik: Yes, again with the folk reinterpretations of the 80’s. I know.

“25 or 6 to 4” – Pacifika: Rendering what was originally the brass and bombast of Chicago in ethereal female harmonies.

“Mad World” – Gary Jules: Not only a great song and a great cover, but an exquisite video.

“Oh, you’ll hate that.”

I have this funny, perverse mental habit.  When someone tells me, “You HAVE to watch X.  You will LOVE X,” I immediately find myself averse to ever looking at such a thing.

My mother is a very smart woman.

She now precedes all recommendations with, “So – you will HATE this.  You don’t want to watch/read/listen to it.”  For some reason, this actually works.

Funny little thing, brains.

I love this

A quick update – my in-laws are in town, and since our internet has been out since Saturday (have I mentioned lately how much I hate Comcast), I am posting this from the library.

The Susan Komen 5k went very well – I did it in just over 40 minutes (which is a good pace for me).  My race number was 1983, which brings us to this super video (it’s pretty much for Marie and me):

Another big “thank you” for all who supported me!


My friend Lianne introduced me to this artist:

(Shall we all gang up on Lianne to get her blogging again?)

Reruns, sort of

I think I posted this item last year – the original lineup of the Indiana University a cappella group called “Straight No Chaser” and their completely hilarious “12 Days of Christmas.”

[well, crap – the original was deleted from YouTube]

The story gets better – on the strength of their YouTube output (put on the web for a reunion), the original group were offered a record contract.  And so, years after graduation, they decided to grab that crazy brass ring and get back together to record a Christmas album called Holiday Spirits.  Our friend Bob sent us a copy of it: it’s FANTASTIC.  If you love lush harmony, clever arrangements, and flawless execution, do yourself a favor and buy a copy.

Here’s them doing Christmas in Washington:

If you don’t love any of these things, I’m sorry your heart is cold and dead.  There’s nothing I can do for you.

Lester Bangs would have nothing to fear…

…if he were still alive, that is.

My friend KHM asked me to do a guest review over at her blog .  Music is one of her passions and as she says, our tastes overlap to a frightening degree.  Head on over if you’d be inclined to hear me bloviate about a recent album.  (Warning: those who know me might be rather surprised.)

Jonatha Brooke + Joss Whedon? Fangirl explosion.

Okay, like, so….

We went to see Jonatha Brooke at the Birchmere this past weekend.  For once, the show wasn’t plagued by a crappy mix.  JB was her usual spunky, funny, soulful, irreverent self.  We enjoyed the hell out of her, as usual.  But she gave us Such.  Big.  News.

She’s doing the theme song for Joss Whedon’s new show, "Dollhouse."

I admit.  I yipped.

(Yes, we’re having an election today.  I voted, as I’m sure you did too, if you live in America.  Because you’re a good citizen.  The best.)

“Show this guy, then cut back to these two.”

For anyone who grew up with "Friday Night Videos."  (You know who you are.)  What happens when videos get literal:

I admit, I had "Hunting High and Low" on vinyl.  I can’t say I remember a single other song from it, though.  Also, Wikipedia says a-ha is still extant.  Amazing.  I’ll have to check out what they’ve done since 1985 at some point…

Shining Eyes and One-Buttock Playing

I can think of worse things to do than to watch the entire series of TED talks. What an amazing group of smart, funny, inspirational people.

Here’s Benjamin Zander on classical music.  Brilliant.


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