As much as I love discovering new songs, sometimes a new performance of an old song is just as good. Hearing an artist put their own spin on a classic, or interpret it differently, is really something special. If a singer/band can convince me to listen to a song I already love in a new way, I’m in. [Now brace yourself for the most links ever to be put in one post.]
Beginning with a cover of one of the most highly covered bands of all time seems fitting.
“Blackbird” is up there with “Yesterday” and “Oh! Darlin’” (which Sara Bareilles covered exquisitely) in my top Beatles songs, but I love what Dionne Faris does with it. The soulful bluesy twist gives the song a groovy (meant in the literal I-want-to-slow-groove-to-this sense), snappy (as in fingers) vibe in the way, in my opinion, only a black artist can.
Michael Jackson (don’t get me started on my deep, devoted love of MJ – I really should put that in a separate post) is another highly covered artist because, well, Michael Jackson. Too many great covers come to mind, but above all, The Civil Wars’ rendition of MJ’s “Billie Jean” is just…beyond. But I’ve already documented my obsession with TCW, so that should come as no surprise.
Apparently I’m continuing with the classics because another love of mine is anyone who can get Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” right. And by ‘anyone’ I mean Norah Jones and by ‘right’ I mean come to mama. The only thing that is missing is the guitar hook at the beginning, replaced instead by a piano, but The Little Willies have got it goin’ on. (Miley Cyrus and The White Stripes both get the riff right, but Norah Jones’ voice takes the cake.) Also on point was Jones’ performance of a snippet with John Mayer and Keith Urban at the 2011 Grammys.
Fleet Foxes do a supremely harmonic cover of Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love” that I long to have someone sing to me someday.
Moving offtrack to YouTube celeb covers (those are a thing, right?) is Katy McAllister’s cover of Foster The People’s “Pumped Up Kicks.” I love, love when an artist can give an upbeat song the feel of a ballad (extra points for grit), and she does it well. I’m still waiting for the day she posts the sheet music so I can learn this version, which I actually prefer to the original.
This cover I just have to include because it is sung by an 11-year-old girl (I know.) and it is so pristine and pure. Sorry, Tay Swizzle, but your own “The Story of Us” doesn’t touch little Josie’s.
Evidently I can go on forever and ever about my favorite covers, but it’s how I’m programmed when it comes to music. I’m sure five minutes after this is posted I will have a list of 20 other covers I should have included.
Any suggestions I should add to my iTunes immediately?