The A.V. Club’s cover project is one of my favorites to check in to when I’m craving a cover song discovery. For this Sunday’s Under the Covers feature – the first of the New Year, I’m going with The A.V. Club’s live 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’ (Every Time You’re Near)”, performed by Laura Jane Grace, of Against Me!
Laura’s live cover is mixed with a bit of drums lifted from The Cure’s song, “Close To Me”.
Her rendition of Michael McDonald’s song takes the track to such a different place. It brings out the sentiments of the lyrics and sets them in a more painful and raw place. The stuff of real break-ups and heartache.
There is anger and hurt in Laura’s interpretation, too. Making this version feel like an anthem of one of the most painful spits you’ve ever been a part of, the kind that is near impossible to get over, get past, and forget.
“I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” (live) by Laura Jane Grace
Under the Covers Sunday
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?
“Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” (also known as “I Keep Forgettin’) is a song by 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.
“I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” by Michael McDonald
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 clarinet, guitar, and drums respectively. Noted bassist Louis Johnson laid down the song’s pronounced bassline. (from Wikipedia)
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 recently went to see “A Concert for George” (Harrison) at the theater with my Mother. They screened it for one-night-only on his birthday, and it was a moving experience. I’ve been on a bit of a George Harrison kick ever since and was thrilled to discover a double live Album of Harrison Covers titled George Fest: A Night to Celebrate the Music of George Harrison. Brandon Flowers, solo Artist and Frontman for The Killers, did a “killer” Cover of “Got My Mind Set On You” for the project.
This week’s Under the Covers Sunday explores just that Song, and Cover from Mr. Flowers. Did you know that George’s Version was also a Cover? I didn’t, until today. We’ll take a listen to the “original” Version today, as well. But before we do, let’s have a listen to Brandon Flowers’ Version.
“Got My Mind Set On You” by Brandon Flowers
“Got My Mind Set on You” was originally written and composed by Rudy Clark and recorded by James Ray, in 1962, under the slightly different title “I’ve Got My Mind Set on You”. (from Wikipedia)
Harrison stated that he bought a copy of the Single in the summer of 1963 while visiting his sister Louise in Illinois. Many years later when he was writing the Cloud Nine Album he remembered the song and decided to cover it.
“I’ve Got My Mind Set On You” by James Ray
George’s Version was released in 1987 on the Album Cloud Nine, recorded on his own Label, Dark Horse Records. It was released as a Single. I vividly remember the first time I heard the Song on the radio. As a daughter of a huge Beatles fan I knew at once I wanted to get my Mom the Cloud Nine Album. And, as a girl who favored George in The Beatles, I knew I wanted it, too. This was a year before I’d have my first Record Store job, but I was already an Obsessive Music Fan (I always say I’ve been on since I was in utero). I took a bus to the Mall (this was also pre-car) and went into Wherehouse Records. I asked the girl behind the counter for the new George Harrison Album. Her response? “Who’s George Harrison?” It still irks me. I remember wanting to ask incredulously “DON’T YOU WORK IN A RECORD STORE?” But, I didn’t. I just went and found it myself, bringing it back up to her to ring up.
ELO bandleader Jeff Lynne produced this song with Harrison. His influence can be heard in the backing vocals of the chorus. (from Songfacts)
“Got My Mind Set On You” by George Harrison
Did you know this is a “Cover” Video Version of the original Video for the Song? There are so many Covers in this week’s Under this Under the Covers feature.
The original Version (see below) was directed by Gary Weis, starred Alexis Denisof, of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” fame. Look how young he is!
Alexis’ character is vying for the heart of a girl in an arcade. It featured Harrison and the band inside of a movie viewer, while the young man tries to win a toy ballerina for the girl. (from Wikipedia) The “Cover” Video (seen above) was the Version to receive regular TV airplay, with heavy rotation on MTV. It was even nominated for 3 MTV VMA’s (Video Music Awards).
“Got My Mind Set On You” (Original Video Version) by George Harrison
Brandon Flowers performed the Song Live at The Fonda Theater for George Fest 2014 on Sunday, September 28th, 2014. He was backed on guitar by George Harrison’s song, Dhani.
“Got My Mind Set On You” (live, 2014) by Brandon Flowers
What do you think of Brandon Flowers’ Cover Version? How does it compare to George Harrison’s Version you? Do you have a favorite of the two? What about the Sixties original by James Ray? Which of the three do you prefer?
What happens when one of my Favorite Women in Music covers another of my Favorite Women in Music? “Gold Dust Woman”, originally by Fleetwood Mac (lead sung by Stevie Nicks) covered by Hole (lead sung by Courtney Love) is an example of when this kind of Cover Song magic happens.
Though the original will forever by my Favorite, Hole’s version featured on The Crow: City of Angels 1996 Soundtrack, is a very close second Favorite.
“Gold Dust Woman” by Hole
“Gold Dust Woman” was originally recorded by Fleetwood Mac and appeared on their hit 1977 Album, Rumours. The Song was written and sung by Stevie Nicks, and was released as the B-Side to the “Don’t Stop” Single in the UK, and as the B-Side to “You Make Loving Fun” Single in the U.S. (from Wikipedia)
Hole’s Cover Version was released in 1996 as their ninth Single on CD by Geffen Records. It was also featured on the Soundtrack to The Crow: City of Angels and was produced by Ric Ocasek of The Cars. (from Wikipedia)
Rumors about what “Gold Dust Woman”, originally from Rumours, is about have varied, but the two major themes have been Cocaine and Stevie’s notorious break-up with bandmate Lindsay Buckingham. An interview Stevie Nicks gave to Rolling Stone Magazine during Fleetwood Mac’s 2014-15 Tour seems to suggest the former “rumor” is true.
During that tour, the Band performed an extended version of the Song that would often stretch past 10 minutes, and it was reported that Stevie would lose herself in the Music during the long instrumental break. She is said to have often felt the effects the next day, as the dancing took a toll on her back. This is how she described the experience to Rolling Stone:
“It’s the drug addict in ‘Gold Dust Woman’ who is breaking her back. She’s out there looking for drugs, and I’m trying to create that situation onstage so people get what it’s about, which was a very heavy, bad time in my life.”
In 1997, Courtney Love and Stevie Nicks were interviewed together by Spin Magazine. When Courtney asked Stevie about the Song Stevie had this to say:
“You know what, Courtney? I don’t really know what ‘Gold Dust Woman’ is about. I know there was cocaine there and that I fancied it gold dust, somehow. I’m going to have to go back to my journals and see if I can pull something out about ‘Gold Dust Woman.’ Because I don’t really know. It’s weird that I’m not quite sure. It can’t be all about cocaine.”
“Gold Dust Woman” by Fleetwood Mac
What do you think of Hole’s Cover Version? How does it compare to the original to you? Do you have a favorite of the two? There are other Covers of “Gold Dust Woman”, is there one that you prefer as a Cover?
Don’t forget to check back next Sunday for another Edition of Under the Covers Sunday. You won’t want to miss it.
Sometimes a Cover Version becomes my favorite version. Sometimes, even though I will enjoy and appreciate the original, a Cover of it will come around and steal my heart and become my favored choice. Elliott Smith’s version of Big Star’s quintessential ode to adolescent innocence and coming-of-age, “Thirteen”, is one of those Covers. I do love Big Star’s, yes, but there is something in the vulnerability and heartbreak of Elliott’s version that just does me in – in the very best way. It feels delicate, breakable, open, hopeful, yet sad. It reminds me of how it felt to be thirteen.
“Thirteen” appeared on the posthumous compilation Album, New Moon, which features Songs of Elliott Smith’s from 1994-1997. It is the final Song on Disc/Album 1. Let’s have a listen to it:
“Thirteen” by Elliott Smith
The original version, by Big Star, was described by Rolling Stone magazine to be “one of rock’s most beautiful celebrations of adolescence”. (from Wikipedia) I would have to agree. It captures simply, and beautifully, the innocence, energy, naivete, hope, and bittersweetness of being a teenager.
“Thirteen” was written by Alex Chilton and Chris Bell. Let’s have a listen to the original:
“Thirteen” by Big Star
What do you think of Elliott Smith’s Cover Version? How does it compare to the original to you? Do you have a favorite of the two? There are other Covers of “Thirteen”, is there one that you prefer as a Cover?
Don’t forget to check back next Sunday for another Edition of Under the Covers Sunday. You won’t want to miss it.
Welcome back Under The Covers Sunday with this Week’s debut, for 2018, with Band Of Skulls covering a Quintessential Bob Dylan Song, “It Ain’t Me Babe”. Settle in to learn a little about the Original Song, and the Origin of the Cover Version. By the end, you can do a little Compare and Contrast between the Cover and the Original, and decide which you love more. Sometimes its a toss-up, and both are divine. Its fun, too, to check out whether it is more of a Tribute to the Original, or a unique, creative take on it, or maybe a bit of both.
So, let’s get started. Let’s press play together and have a listen to Band Of Skulls Version, taken off of the Bob Dylan Tribute Album, Chimes Of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan, Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International.
“It Ain’t Me Babe” by Band Of Skulls
“It Ain’t Me Babe” is Originally written and performed by Bob Dylan. It appeared first on his fourth Album, Another Side of Bob Dylan, released by Columbia Records in 1964. It has been said that this Song, and the Album as a whole, marked a departure for Dylan. Oliver Trager noted that it chronicled Dylan “as he began to explore the possibilities of language and deeper levels of human experience.” (from Wikipedia)
Soon after its release the Song was covered by The Turtles and Johnny Cash. The latter sang it as a duet with June Carter. It has been covered by many more artists, including Janis Joplin, Jan And Dean, Joan Baez, Nancy Sinatra, Bryan Ferry, Kesha, Band Of Skulls (who we are exploring today), and others.
Many sources cite that Dylan was inspired to write this Song because of his relationship with former girlfriend Suze Rotolo. He has said to have written the Song during a visit to Italy in 1963, while he was looking for Rotolo, who was studying there at the time. The notion of him “looking for her” makes it sound to me like she didn’t necessarily want him there, which gives an unsettling feeling to it. Maybe it was in that search that he realized it wasn’t him she wanted?
The Album itself was notoriously recorded in one night. It was an all-night studio session that is said to have been aided by “a couple of bottles of Beaujolais.” The last master take was completed at 1:30am.
According to various sources, the opening line to “It Ain’t Me Babe” (“Go away from my window”) is a shout-out to fellow folk-singer John Jacob Niles’ Song “Go ‘Way From My Window”.
“Go ‘Way From My Window” by John Jacob Niles
The lyric “no, no, no, it ain’t me babe” is also said to be a call-back to The Beatles’ “she loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah”, from their Hit Song, “She Loves You”, which the girl in Dylan’s Song obviously does not.
“She Loves You” by The Beatles
Band Of Skulls are from Southampton in the UK. They are an Indie Rock trio that consists of Russell Marsden (vocals and guitar), Emma Richardson (vocals and bass), and Matt Hayward (drums). The three formed the band in college, where they met, though Russell and Matt had been pals since they were kids. They have released four studio Albums, so far.
Their overall style is Indie Rock meets Blues Rock. In 2017, Matt Hayward reportedly left the band. It will be interesting to see if Russell and Emma continue. I hope so.
Let’s have a listen to Dylan’s Original:
“It Ain’t Me Babe” by Bob Dylan
Though I am partial to the Original (I love Dylan), I’m pretty fond of the Band Of Skulls cover. I’ve added it to many Playlists and Mixes. What do you think? Do you prefer the Cover or the Original? Do you like another Cover of “It Ain’t Me Babe” better?
Check back in Next Sunday to see what Song I cover next. You won’t want to miss it!
Under the Covers Sunday is back again, bringing with it the space where you can Press Play and have a listen to some of the Greatest Cover Songs of All-Time. We take these Covers and give them Center Stage so that we can learn a little about them, and do a little Compare/Contrast between the Original and the Cover Version, and decide which we Love more. Sometimes we even Love both.
Feel free to weigh in on each Cover Song in the comments below, and please feel free to throw some Cover Song suggestions down below in the comments.
Today’s Under the Covers Sunday installment comes from lyriquediscorde.com Favorite, James Bay covering Alicia Keys.
“If I Ain’t Got You” :: James Bay :: Under the Covers Sunday
We’ve been big Fans of James Bay since his EP was put out, long before “Chaos and the Calm”, and the Hit Songs came to be. James deserves every bit of Accolade and Rave that has been said about him, what with the Songwriting, Songs and that Voice. While perusing that Voice we came across this Spotify Recorded Cover Version of Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You”, by James Bay. It is Beyond Good, and I knew at First Play that it had to be shared.
It feels so in the pocket with James’ Hit Song “Let It Go”, as well as my Favorite Track of his, “Scars”. I feel like he could have written it himself, really. It just fits him Perfectly. And although I do Love Alicia’s Original Version, this one certainly has gotten my attention.
Here…have a Listen…
“If I Ain’t Got You” (Live, 2015, Spotify Session)
And, here is another Live Version…
“If I Ain’t Got You” (Live, Europe 1)
“If I Ain’t Got You” was written, produced, and recorded by Alicia Keys for her 2nd Studio Album, The Diary of Alicia Keys. It was inspired by the 2001 death of fellow R&B Singer, and friend of Alicia’s, Aaliyah, as well as the September 11 events in New York City, and a few undisclosed “other” events in the world, and in Alicia’s life, at that time.
Alicia has said that it is about “how material things don’t feed the soul”.
Released in 2004, as the Album’s 2nd Single, the Song went on to peak at # 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Chart, and became Key’s 2nd consecutive R&B chart-topper, remaining atop the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for 6-weeks.
The Song received 2 Grammy nominations, for Song of the Year and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. Alicia won the latter.
“If I Ain’t Got You” :: Alicia Keys
What do you think of James Bay Cover Version? What do you think of the Original? How do they Compare? Which do you Prefer? Do you know of any other Covers of “If I Ain’t Got You?”
Check back in Next Sunday to see what Song is Covered Next. You won’t want to miss it!
Under the Covers Sunday continues, the space where you can Press Play and have a listen to some of the Greatest Cover Songs, learn a little about them, and do a little Compare/Contrast between the Original and the Cover Version. Feel free to weigh in on each Cover Song in the comments below, and please feel free to throw some Cover Song suggestions down below in the comments.
Today’s Under the Covers Sunday installment features Garbage’s take on The Jam.
“Butterfly Collector” :: Garbage :: Under The Covers
Recommended to me last Sunday, this is a Cover Gem that I don’t remember ever hearing before. It comes at a time where I have been exploring and diving in deep to all things Paul Weller, so I was quite excited to hear one Favorite band of mine cover another Favorite band. “Butterfly Collector” can be found on the 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition Self-Titled Garbage Album. It is darker than the original, and having this Song be Sung by Shirley versus Paul flips the plot a bit. There is more desperation here, more danger and pain that unravels verse by verse. A part of me feels like this version feels personal, confessional, as if the Singer and the “Butterfly Collector” are one in the same.
Have a listen…
“Butterfly Collector” :: Garbage
from the Album, Garbage (20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition/Remastered)
Here is a Live Version, as well…
“Butterfly Collector” s the 13th Song on the Album Snap, released in 1983. It has been said to be a bitter expose of the London club scene, or more specifically, one particular club owner. Using and abusing bands to further his own aims and fame, Paul Weller is said to have pinned her to the wall, leaving the subject of the Song to squirm beneath is sharp-as-tacks Lyrics.
For weeks after the Single’s release the London Club Scene spread rumors as to who the Song’s subject was, but Paul Weller never confirmed, or let on.
When I listen to the Song I actually think more on the subject being an aging Groupie who has spent her life chasing after the high of loving Music and Bands. But, I suppose this is more personal and specific, and very pointed at the time of the Single’s release.
Shirley Manson describes the Song as being about “Star Fucking” (in the Live Video above), which harkens back to what I took the Song to mean. Perhaps this is her interpretation, the Story she gave it when Covering The Jam’s Song.
What is your take on it?
“Butterfly Collector” :: The Jam
Welcome to the Return of Under the Covers Sunday, a space where you can Press Play and have a listen to some of the Greatest Cover Songs, learn a little about them, and do a little Compare/Contrast between the Original and the Cover Version. Feel free to weigh in on each Cover Song in the comments below, and please feel free to throw some Cover Song suggestions down below in the comments.
Let’s start out the Return of Under the Covers Sunday with Karen O and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs take on The Ramones.
“Sheena is a Punk Rocker” :: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs :: Under the Covers
Found on the Compilation Album, War Child – Heroes Vol. 1, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover of The Ramones’ Song, “Sheena is a Punk Rocker”, caught me delightfully by surprise. Though it is not a groundbreaking take on the Track, it is infused with an energy that feels renewed, genuine and completely fun. It relies more on the Surf Punk sensibility, than a dark Punk edge, though it definitely has some Punk in it. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs version also reminds me of the Early 80’s, especially some of the female led, and all girl bands, like The Go-Go’s, Bow Wow Wow, and The Waitresses.
Have a listen…
“Sheena is a Punk Rocker” :: Yeah Yeah Yeahs
from the Album, War Child – Heroes Vol. 1 (2008)
“Sheena is a Punk Rocker” was written by Joey Ramone, and is considered one of the band’s most popular songs. Joey was heavily influenced by 1960’s Surf Rock and Bubblegum Pop when he wrote the song. It first was released as a Single in the UK, in May of 1977, where it charted at # 22. In the USA, it was released as a Single in July of 1977, and reached # 81. It also appeared on copies of the second issue of The Ramones’ 1977 Album, Leave Home. It was later re-recorded, and released on The Ramones’ third Album, Rocket to Russia.
The Song is noted for being one of the first to explicitly refer to Punk Rock in its title, and lyrics, in terms of a subculture.
Joey Ramone has said about the song:
“To me ‘Sheena’ was the first surf/punk rock/teenage rebellion song. I combined Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, with the primalness of punk rock. Then Sheena is brought into the modern day.”
“Sheena is a Punk Rocker” :: The Ramones
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.
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.
Can I please have a duet of Stevie and Allison please?
texture like sun,
lays me down with my mind,
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).
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