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.