Thunder only happens when it’s raining :: Under the Covers

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The Kills’ version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” starts immediately with a different tone and energy, a sense of urgency and stark coolness that the original does not convey. The eerie pulse of the drums at the start, and the sonic build-up quietly sounding in the background creates an almost horror movie vibe, and then Allison’s voice comes in – sensual, alluring, commanding, and certain. This is not a song of desperation or regret, no, not in this take; it feels more like a challenge, a proclamation, a call for both love and war.

If there are regrets, it will be the regret of letting her go.

Dreams :: The Kills
from the album, Just Tell Me That You Want Me: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac

I found this cover album in a used CD bin at Amoeba, in Hollywood. Cover albums can be a mix bag, much like short story collections, but this one is pretty solid all the way through. This was the first time I heard The Kills, on this album, so it makes their cover of “Dreams” even more special to me. I immediately ran out and bought their album, Midnight Boom, falling head over heels for Allison’s voice, Jamie’s guitar work, and the song “Black Balloon”.

But, I digress. This version of “Dreams” is one of my all-time favorite covers. It makes its way into many a mix and/or playlist, and is one of my go-to songs to share when I introduce anyone to The Kills and Allison Mosshart.

What do you think of it?

Live version with Allison Mosshart and Mark Ronson, at Fleetwood Mac Fest, at the Fonda Theater, February 2016 (why wasn’t I there?)

Allison’s cover of “Dreams” is amazing live, too. A bit more raw, almost feral, and a contagious mix of rock and blues that is unforgettable.

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Dreams :: Fleetwood Mac

The original is still a stunner, and one of my all-time, lifetime favorite songs. “Rumours” has been a favorite album of mine since I was a kid, and will never not be on my favorite albums list. Stevie is one of my favorite voices, and she is quintessentially her in this song. There is a lightness here, a sense of melancholy, too, that waft of regret that seems to permeate the upbeat rock sensibilities. The lyrics juxtapose against the sounds, but it works, because I think the song is full of conflicting emotions.

This is one of those songs that represent my version, and memories, of the late seventies.

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Can I please have a duet of Stevie and Allison please?

Stays for a day :: Under the Covers

Golden Brown

“Golden Brown,
texture like sun,
lays me down with my mind,
she runs,
throughout the night, 
no need to fight.”

I woke with the original version of Golden Brown in my head, and immediately went to play it. Sometimes when a song is there at the ready it feels part of a dream, or the start of something needing to be written. Before I found it to play though, I stumbled upon a cover version that I’d never heard about. Nouvelle Vague is a favorite of mine, especially for their unique takes on songs that I love. This is no exception. It is stripped down and gorgeous sounding, melancholic and full of longing, a song I want to fall in love to.

Have a listen…

Golden Brown :: Nouvelle Vague

I love the guitar, but more than that, I love the violin. The vocals, too, are so breathtaking. Mareva Galanter’s voice is perfect for this interpretation of Golden Brown. I love that the video is set in a library, too. It brings something to the song, something literary and secret and stolen, like a little bit of magic stumbled upon in an unexpected place (unless, of course, it is common in Helsinki libraries to have a band playing beautiful cover songs).

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“Every time,
just like the last,
on her ship,
tied to the mast,
to distant lands, 
takes both my hands.”

Golden Brown is originally by the English rock band, The Stranglers. It was released as a 7″ single in December 1981 in the United States, and in January 1982 in the UK. It was the second single released from the band’s sixth album La Folie. The song peaked at # 2 on the UK Singles Chart, becoming the band’s biggest hit on the charts.

The band claimed that the song’s lyrics were akin to an aural Rorschach test and that people only heard in it what they wanted to hear, although this did not prevent persistent allegations that the lyrics alluded to heroin (although in an interview with Channel 4, drummer Jet Black quipped it was a song about Marmite.

That said, in his 2001 book The Stranglers Song By Song, Hugh Cornwell states “Golden Brown works on two levels. It’s about heroin and also about a girl.” Essentially describing how “both provided me with pleasurable times.” (notice no mention of Marmite there).

Golden Brown (extended version) :: The Stranglers

The Stranglers Golden Brown

And she keeps calling me back again :: Under the Covers

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I’ve Just Seen a Face :: Langhorne Slim

“Had it been another day,
I might have looked the other way,
and I’d have never been aware,
but as it is I’ll dream of her tonight.

I love the unexpected cover captured in an unexpected place, like this one, with Langhorne Slim, casually, acoustically, covering The Beatles in a parking lot (with a Santa hat on, to boot). It reminds me of gatherings with friends when I was younger, when a guitar would be passed around and someone would start singing a familiar song. Sometimes we’d all join in, other times the song would play in the background, adding to the layers of conversations and other music piping in through the stereo speakers, and then sometimes we’d all quiet down and pay attention, watching and listening as the song played on through.

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The Beatles’ catalog is immediately recognizable to most of us, though this one may not be as immediately accessible as say some of their bigger hits (or at least songs that have been used, reused, and covered more frequently). This one reminds me of my childhood, of my Mom playing the Rubber Soul album (my favorite Beatles album) in our living room, and me, lying on the floor close to the speakers, drawing pictures in notebooks, or reading books while the music played. It also reminds me of another cover of the song, from the film Across the Universe, sung by Jim Sturgess, in the bowling alley scene. It is a more sped up version, but hits the same sentiment of those early moments of falling for someone; the advent of a crush.

I’ve Just Seen a Face :: Jim Sturgess (from Across the Universe)

I’ve Just Seen a Face is a song originally written and recorded by the Beatles. It appeared on their 1965 United Kingdom album Help! and in the United States on the Capitol Records version of the Rubber Soul album.

The song has been said to have been written by Paul McCartney, though it is credited to Lennon-McCartney, and features McCartney on vocals. Prior to the song’s release, the song was briefly titled Aunty Gin’s Theme, after his father’s youngest sister, because it was one of her favorites. It is one of the very few Beatles’ songs that lacks a bass track.

McCartney has said about the song:

It was slightly country and western from my point of view… it was faster, though, it was a strange uptempo thing. I was quite pleased with it. The lyric works; it keeps dragging you forward, it keeps pulling you to the next line, there’s an insistent quality to it that I liked.”

The song’s lyrics sound effortless and conversational, but they also contain a complex sequence of cascading rhymes (“I have never known/The like of this/I’ve been alone/And I have missed”) that is responsible for the song’s irresistible propulsion.

Capitol Records chose it as the lead track for the US edition of Rubber Soul with the intent of giving the album a stronger acoustic feel, in step with the then-current folk-rock movement.

The song was recorded by the Beatles on June 14, 1965 at Abbey Road Studios in London in the same session with Yesterday, and I’m Down.

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What do you think of Langhorne Slim’s cover? What about the use of it in Across the Universe? Do you know of any other covers of this song that you enjoy? What are some other covers of The Beatles that you consider favorites?

I’ve Just Seen a Face :: The Beatles

We’re not in love anymore :: Under the Covers

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I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near) (live) :: Laura Jane Grace

“Hey, I know that it’s hard for you,
to say the things we both know are true.
But tell me how come I keep forgettin’,
we’re not in love anymore?”

The A.V. Club’s cover project is one of my favorites to check in to when I’m craving a new cover song to fall head over musical ears for. This morning the first one that I came upon was one of my favorite band’s lead singer’s, Against Me! Laura Jane Grace’s, cover of Michael McDonald’s early 80’s adult contemporary “break-up/heartache” song, that I remember all too well playing on the radio when I was in junior high, I Keep Forgettin’ (mixed with a bit of drums via The Cure’s Close to Me). Laura’s rendition of this song takes it to such a different place, and brings the sentiments of the lyrics into a more painful and raw place. There is anger and hurt that come across in Laura’s interpretation that turn this song into one of those heartbreak songs that feel too much like the most painful split I’ve ever been a part of, the ones that was so hard to forget about, the one that felt near impossible to believe is over.

Listening now, on repeat, I feel as if this is the first time I’ve ever heard this song. Isn’t that what makes the perfect cover song?

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I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near) (also known as I Keep Forgettin’) is a song by American singer-songwriter Michael McDonald, from his debut album If That’s What It Takes. It was written by McDonald and Ed Sanford. Its similarity to the earlier song I Keep Forgettin’, by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, recorded by Chuck Jackson resulted in Leiber and Stoller also being given a songwriting credit.

Michael McDonald recorded it, with his sister Maureen providing background vocals. It was featured on If That’s What It Takes, his first solo album away from The Doobie Brothers. Released as a single, it peaked at # 4 on the Billboard Pop Singles charts, and # 7 on the Billboard R&B chart. Greg Phillinganes, Steve Lukather and Jeff Porcaro of the band Toto played the clavinet, guitar and drums respectively. Noted bassist Louis Johnson laid down the song’s pronounced bassline.

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What do you think of Laura Jane Grace’s cover? Do you know of any other covers of this song that you enjoy? Are there any other Michael McDonald, or The Doobie Brothers’ covers that you would recommend?

I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near) :: Michael McDonald

Why do I let myself worry?

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Crazy (live) :: The Kills

Crazy for thinking that my love could hold you.
I’m crazy for trying,
and crazy for crying,
and I’m crazy for loving you.”

This cover is a favorite of mine, and not a new discovery. I love Alison Mosshart’s voice, especially when Jamie Hince adds harmony to her vocals. I am also quite fond of Alison when she goes for something uncharacteristic, something stripped back and softer than her rock and roll specialty with her work with The Kills and The Dead Weather. An unexpected pairing like this, a rock duo taking on a Willie Nelson penned Patsy Cline country ballad classic, is what my love of cover songs is all about. I love sonic surprises like this, and have slipped this cover into many playlists and mixes, as well as played it while writing a specific scene in my work-in-progress desert novel.

Listening to this cover, on repeat, makes me long for an acoustic cover album from Alison and Jamie. Wouldn’t that just be fantastic?

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Crazy is originally a ballad composed by Willie Nelson. It has been recorded by several artists, most notably by Patsy Cline, whose version was a #2 country hit in 1962.

With some help from a friend named Oliver English, Nelson wrote the song in early 1961; at the time he was a journeyman singer-songwriter who had written several hits for other artists but had not yet had a significant recording of his own. Nelson originally wrote the song for country singer Billy Walker who turned it down for the same reason Roy Drusky turned down “I Fall to Pieces” (another song recorded by Patsy Cline) the previous year – that it was “a girl’s song“. The song’s eventual success helped launch Nelson as a performer as well as a songwriter.

Musically the song is a jazz-pop ballad with country overtones and a complex melody. The lyrics describe the singer’s state of bemusement at the singer’s own helpless love for the object of his affection.

Partly due to the genre-blending nature of the song, it has been covered by dozens of artists in several genres over the years; nevertheless, the song remains inextricably linked with Cline. Nelson’s own version appears on his 1962 debut album …And Then I Wrote.

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Crazy (live) :: Patsy Cline

Patsy Cline, who was already a country music superstar and working to extend a string of hits, picked it as a follow up to her previous big hit I Fall to Pieces. Crazy, its complex melody suiting Cline’s vocal talent perfectly, was released in late 1961 and immediately became another huge hit for Cline and widened the crossover audience she had established with her prior hits. It spent 21 weeks on the chart and eventually became one of her signature tunes. Cline’s version is # 85 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

According to the Ellis Nassour biography Patsy Cline, Nelson, who at that time was known as a struggling songwriter by the name of Hugh Nelson, was a regular at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge on Nashville’s Music Row, where he frequented with friends Kris Kristofferson and Roger Miller, both unknown songwriters at that time. Nelson met Cline’s husband, Charlie Dick, at the bar one evening and pitched the song to him. Dick took the track home and played it for Cline, who absolutely hated it at first because Nelson’s demo “spoke” the lyrics ahead of and behind the beat, about which an annoyed Cline remarked that she “couldn’t sing like that”.

However, Cline’s producer, Owen Bradley, loved the song and arranged it in the ballad form in which it was later recorded. On Loretta Lynn’s album I Remember Patsy Bradley reported that as Patsy was still recovering from a recent automobile accident that nearly took her life, she’d had difficulty reaching the high notes of the song on the original production night due to her broken ribs. So after about four hours of trying, in the days of four songs being recorded in three hours – they called it a night. A week later she came back and recorded the lead vocal we all know in one take.

On the same interview, Loretta remembers the first time Cline performed it at the Grand Ole Opry on crutches, and received three standing ovations. Barbara Mandrell remembers Cline introducing the song to her audiences live in concert saying

All my recent hits have come true in my life. I had a hit out called Tra-La-La Triangle and people thought about me and Gerald and Charlie. I had another hit out called ‘I Fall to Pieces’ and I was in a car wreck. Now I’m really worried because I have a new hit single out and it’s called ‘Crazy’.

Willie Nelson stated on the 1993 documentary Remembering Patsy that Cline’s version of Crazy was his favorite song of his that anybody had ever recorded because it “was a lot of magic.”

Crazy was Cline’s biggest hit. She died in a plane crash 2 years later at age 30.

The song has been featured on numerous TV shows, including Moonlighting, Quantum Leap, Cybill, Cold Case, and Fringe. It’s also been used in the movies Desert Hearts (1985), Murder One (1988), The Handmaid’s Tale (1990), Doc Hollywood (1991), Nell(1994), Tommy Boy (1995), Some Mother’s Son (1996) and In & Out (1997), among others.

On an episode of VH1’s Storytellers, Willie Nelson revealed that this was originally titled Stupid.

Do you have a favorite Willie Nelson cover song? Do you have a favorite Patsy Cline cover song? What do you think of The Kills live cover of Crazy? What do you think of Patsy Cline’s version? Have you heard any of the other covers of Crazy that you enjoy?

Crazy :: Willie Nelson

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Willie Nelson in the recording studio, 1961

Sing with me

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Dream On :: Kelly Sweet

 “Half my life is books,
written pages, 
live and learn from fools and from sages.
You know it’s true,
oh ll these feelings, 
come back to you.”

Some of my favorite music moments are the unexpected finds, the sonic surprises that catch me off guard and leave me delighted, and inspired. Cover song discoveries are some of my favorite of these kinds of moments. Anyone who knows me or reads my posts here know that I adore a good cover, and today’s find, Kelly Sweet’s cover of Dream On, is what I would call a good cover, and a stunning surprise. I love the dreaminess of it (fitting, right?), the magic that seems to be weaved into it, the simple moments and the soaring ones.

This cover takes the original and turns it around, reinterpreting it into a gorgeously lush composition. Although I do love the Seventies Rock staple, this take on it sinks right in to me, too. I especially love the strings here, the Spanish guitar sound that adds to the dreamy delight of the song to me. That and Kelly’s crystal clear voice, and impressive range.

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Dream On is originally by Aerosmith, and is featured on their 1973 debut album, Aerosmith. Written by lead singer Steven Tyler, this song became their first major hit and classic rock radio staple. Released in June 1973, it peaked at # 59 nationally but hit big in the band’s native Boston, where it was the # 1 single of the year on the less commercial top 40 station WBZ-FM, # 5 for the year on highly rated Top 40 WRKO-AM and # 16 on heritage Top 40 WMEX-AM.

The album version of Dream On (4:28, as opposed to the 3:25 1973 45 rpm edit), was re-issued early in 1976, debuting at # 81 On January 10, breaking into the Top 40 on February 14 and peaking at # 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 national chart, April 10. Columbia chose to service Top 40 radio stations with a re-issue of the 3:25 edited version, thus, many 1976 Pop Radio listeners were exposed to the group’s first Top 10 effort through the 45 edit.

Dream On was first played live in Mansfield, Connecticut at the Shaboo Inn. In a 2011 interview, Tyler reminisced about his father, a Juilliard-trained musician. He recalled lying beneath his dad’s piano as a three-year-old listening to him play classical music. “That’s where I got that Dream On chordage,” he said.

Tyler says that this was the only song on the band’s first album where he used his real voice. He was insecure about how his voice sounded on tape, so for the other songs, he tried to sing a bit lower and sound more like soul artists, such as James Brown. The song is also famous for its building climax to showcase Tyler’s trademark screams.

The song is composed in the key of F minor

9d4debb06fac412660d2c99e38c4e49f.There have a been a few other memorable covers of Dream On that I’ve heard and enjoyed, including a version by The Mission U.K. (see below) that appeared on their 1987 album Children. It has that late 80’s death-rock/goth/dark rock feel to it that I loved during that time in my life.

Dream On :: The Mission U.K.

Do you have a favorite Aerosmith cover song? What do you think of this cover of Dream On? What about Kelly Sweet’s version? Have you heard any of the other covers of Dream On that you enjoy?

Dream On (live) :: Aerosmith

I know you have a lot of strength left

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This Woman’s Work :: Greg Laswell

Give me these moments back,
give them back to me,
give me that little kiss,
give me your hand.”

In honor of Mother’s Day I thought I’d share a cover of one of my favorite songs about Mother’s, a song that is also a unquestionable trigger for tears to me. This Woman’s Work delivers such an emotional punch, touching on loss and struggle, pain and persistence, and some of the undefinable moments and feelings that come with being a Mother. Though I have never found a cover to best Kate Bush’s original (one of my all-time favorite songs), Greg Laswell gives a tender version of it with his take on the song. The song takes a different tone to me, perhaps because it is a male voice singing it. The song then becomes more of a song sung to a Mother, one that feels to be gone, than how the original that always seemed more intimate and vulnerable to me (albeit, this is my interpretation of the song, when I listen). My favorite is the harmonies in the chorus, done in production with his own vocals, that is beautiful, and adds to the build of this interpretation. I also love the quiet start and end, with just the piano and vocal.

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This Woman’s Work was written and performed by Kate Bush, and originally featured on the soundtrack of the American film She’s Having a Baby (1988). The song was released as the second single from her album The Sensual World in 1989 and peaked at # 25 in the UK Singles Chart.

The lyric of This Woman’s Work is said to be about the reality  of confronting an unexpected and frightening crisis during the normal event of childbirth. Written for the movie She’s Having a Baby, director John Hughes used the song during the film’s dramatic climax, when Jake (Kevin Bacon) learns that the lives of his wife (Elizabeth McGovern) and their unborn child are in danger. As the song plays, we see a montage sequence of flashbacks showing the couple in happier times, intercut with shots of him waiting for news of Elizabeth and their baby’s condition. Bush wrote the song specifically for the sequence, writing from a man’s (Jake’s) viewpoint and matching the words to the visuals which had already been filmed.

The version of the song that was featured on The Sensual World was re-edited from the original version featured on the film soundtrack. The version released as a single was a third, slightly different mix.

This Woman’s Work is one of several songs that were completely re-recorded on her 2011 album Director’s Cut. The new version features a sparse performance of Bush playing the piano and singing.

There have been other cover versions, as well, including one by Maxell, Hope, Gwyneth Paltrow, as well as others.

Do you have a favorite Kate Bush cover song? What do you think of this cover of This Woman’s Work? Have you heard any of the other covers of This Woman’s Work that you enjoy?

This Woman’s Work :: Kate Bush

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One day, maybe next week

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One Way or Another :: Until The Ribbon Breaks

And if the lights are all out,
I’ll follow your bus downtown,
see who’s hanging out.”

I stumbled onto this cover a few weeks back as I perused a Coachella playlist I found on Spotify. I had no knowledge of Until The Ribbon Breaks, but the title caught my eye as I am always up for hearing a newly discovered cover song. I love how haunting this one is, slowed down tempo, vocal effects, the pulsing background beat, the immense sensual feel to it reminiscent of how Tricky or Portishead tend to make me feel.

It feels terrifying, too, unnerving, a little bit unsettling.

The slow start of the song, the vocals slithering in, echoing, then the chorus starts, familiar, but so very different. I immediately feel chills chase up my arms and down my spine. This cover is cinematic, demanding imagery to accompany it. Close your eyes and listen, what do you see?

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One Way or Another is orginally by American band Blondie from the album Parallel Lines. The song was released as the fourth single in the US and Canada as the follow-up to the # 1 hit Heart of Glass. One Way or Another reached # 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 and # 7 on the RPM 100 Singles.

Written by Debbie Harry and Nigel Harrison for the band’s third studio album, in 1978, the song was inspired by one of Harry’s ex-boyfriends who stalked her after their breakup.

The song was included on the US and Canadian versions of the band’s first hits compilation, The Best of Blondie (1981), as it was released as a single there, but not on the international releases.

Rolling Stone ranked the song # 298 on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Do you have a favorite Blondie cover song? What do you think of this cover of One Way or Another? Have you heard any of the other covers of One Way or Another that you enjoy?

One Way or Another (live, 1979) :: Blondie

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She fell in love with me

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Venus Stopped the Train (live) :: July Talk

I kept my distance because she fell in love with everyone.
Smoking grass and taking Christmas trees,
she fell in love with me.
I was polite to her,
a soft sadness had her much more than her loneliness.

I fell for July Talk last Summer when I reviewed their EP, Guns and Ammunition. It was during my introduction to them that I stumbled on this beautiful cover on a favorite song of mine. Venus Stopped the Train holds a very personal place in my heart, and the song itself touches on a sadness, and a suitcase worth of lovely memories residing inside of me. The song tells a story that has left me full of wide-eyed wonder, and also filled those same eyes with tears. July Talk’s take on the song, with just the piano accompanying, like the original, but even more stripped down and sung as a duet, is such a perfect rendition, full of longing and loneliness and love.The use of the two voices, telling the sung story as an almost confession, singing both sides of the story, gives the song a different complexity, and hits me even deeper than the original. I am completely taken by it.

maxresdefaultVenus Stopped the Train is originally recorded by the band Wilco. It was an unused demo from the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album that showcases the magic songwriting collaboration between Jay Bennett and frontman Jeff Tweedy, which was recorded with Bennett playing piano and Tweedy singing, in early 2002. The recorded original starts out somewhat ominously with the sound of canned thunder and pouring down rain as an introduction that then turns into a softly played piano sound. Tweedy’s vocal sounds fragile and vulnerable, starkly beautiful with a kind of loneliness that fits the song perfectly. Around the minute and half mark a set of backup vocals comes in sounding spiritual and choir-like, adding a sense of dramatic emotion in the same vein as that beginning sound of rain had. The vocals were provided by a harmonic mix of Tweedy’s, Bennett’s, and bassist John Stirrat’s voices.

Towards the end of the song, at about the three minute and a half mark, the predominately solo vocal switches to a brief switch in lead vocals, with Bennett taking over.

The song came around the ending of the musical relationship between Bennett and Tweedy, and this song seems like a goodbye, of sorts, to the two of them. It is full of melancholic beauty, and a sadness that is undeniable. Bennett died in his sleep in May of 2009 from an accidental overdose.

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Jay Bennett and Jeff Tweedy

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Do you have a favorite Wilco cover song? What do you think of this cover of Venus Stopped the Train?

Venus Stopped the Train :: Wilco

You and me, babe, how about it? :: Under the Covers

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Romeo and Juliet (live) :: The Killers

Juliet, the dice was loaded from the start.
And, I bet and you exploded in my heart.
And I forget,
I forget the movie song.
When you gonna realize it was just that the time was wrong?

The way I feel about this version of this song is hard to explain. I’ve always been a fan of The Killers and Brandon Flowers, but when I encountered this song on the Abbey Road episode The Killers were a part of, I was completely thrown. I loved it so much, beyond so much, and for months and months I could not stop playing it. The way I feel about it – this version – is similar to how I feel about Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat, Bob Dylan’s Tangled Up in Blue, and The Replacements’ Achin’ to Be, and though I do enjoy Dire Straits’ original, it is this one that gets me the way those other songs do, deep and personal and real, and hard to explain. I feel a part of the song, a part of the story sung. Oh how I love when that happens.

Romeo and Juliet is originally by British rock band Dire Straits, written by singer and lead guitarist Mark Knopfler. It first appeared on the 1980 album Making Movies and was released as a single in 1981.

The song subsequently appeared on the Dire Straits live albums Alchemy and On the Night, and later on Knopfler’s live duet album with Emmylou Harris, Real Live Roadrunning (though Harris does not perform on the track).

The track was also featured on the greatest hits albums Money for Nothing, Sultans of Swing: The Very Best of Dire Straits, and The Best of Dire Straits & Mark Knopfler: Private Investigations.

The lyrics of the song describe the experience of the two lovers of the title, hinting at a situation that saw the “Juliet” figure abandon her “Romeo” after finding fame and moving on from the rough neighborhood, where they first encountered each other. In addition to the reference to William Shakespeare’s play of the same title, the song makes playful allusion to other works involving young love, including the songs Somewhere – from West Side Story, which is itself based on the Shakespeare play – and My Boyfriend’s Back.

The song opens on an arpeggiated resonator guitar part played by Knopfler, who also sings the lead vocal: The melody on that song opening is reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen’s Jungleland (both records feature Springsteen’s E Street Band pianist Roy Bittan). The introductory arpeggios and melody are played on a National Style “O” guitar, the same guitar featured on the album artwork for Brothers in Arms (Dire Straits album) and Sultans of Swing: The Very Best of Dire Straits.

The instrumentation in the song remains simple during the verses and moves to a full-on rock arrangement in the chorus sections.

The song itself, written by Knopfler, was inspired by his failed romance with Holly Vincent, lead singer of the short-lived band Holly and The Italians. The song speaks of a Romeo who is still very much in love with his Juliet, but she now treats him like “just another one of [her] deals“. Knopfler has both stated and implied that he believes Vincent was using him to boost her career. The song’s line “Now you just say, oh Romeo, yeah, you know I used to have a scene with him,” refers to an interview with Vincent, where she says “What happened was that I had a scene with Mark Knopfler and it got to the point where he couldn’t handle it and we split up.”

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The Killers version was recorded in 2007 at Abbey Road Studios for the Channel 4 show Live from Abbey Road in the UK, and was later featured as a B-Side on the song For Reasons Unknown, and also appeared on their compilation album, Sawdust.

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What do you think of The Killers’ cover? Do you know of any other covers of this song that you enjoy? Are there any other Dire Straits covers that you would recommend?

Romeo and Juliet :: Dire Straits