Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cover Me

There's nothing like a good cover. Vincent and I have spent hours talking about our top fives and no matter how many times we do it there's still always room for debate. Even narrowing it down is problematic; thinking about my top five Dylan covers is like having Twelve Angry Men in my head. (Last check they were, in no particular order, The Specials - Maggie's Farm, Hendrix - All Along The Watchtower, Hendrix - Like A Rolling Stone, Johnny Cash & June Carter - It Ain't Me Babe, The White Stripes - One More Cup Of Coffee. Vincent's not here to remind me of what I've left off, so no doubt I'll be screaming back here in half an hour when I remember.)

Anyway, today at work my boss brought in a new cd called Waiata, a collection of songs by Maori showbands and troubadours, and I spent the afternoon trying very hard not to make soul trains with customers, or throw my undies at the stereo (actually that bit was easy, but I felt like I should say it; John Rowles features). Most of the collection is covers - great ones - including one of Mandy where he says Brandy instead (totally new meaning to the line: you stopped me from shaking). And yesterday, she gave me another pile of her husband's old music magazines (they're not Mojo but they occasionally have something worth looking at), and in an ancient copy of The Word have come across some covers I'd never known about, which I'm enjoying.

1. I grew up in an Andy Williams household; when I sing Moon River, I'm singing with him, not Frank Sinatra or Audrey Hepburn. I still know nothing about Andy Williams, but always imagined him to be like this Mr Pollock at church; older-man good-looking and friendly but with a bit of mystique. And a wife. Andy Williams always seemed like a man with a wife. I'm not sure what that means. Anyway, this was in The Word, and I like it.

2. I just read yesterday that, with his producer Hank Cosby, Stevie Wonder wrote the tune of Tears Of A Clown, and gave it to Smokey Robinson, when he was sixteen. What a guy. Everything he writes is so full of joy; even his sad songs are so life affirming. It was already a great song and The Beatles did it well, but Stevie puts so much life in it, it's like all of a sudden the song is in colour. Which, being 1970s America, I guess it was. Hey, remember In Living Colour?!

3. This is a beautiful song, and the original is near perfect. And, the first time I heard this cover, I hated it; I didn't know who it was. But when I did, and I learnt what he'd been through, it near broke my heart. I love Joe Strummer, and I always will.

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