Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Covers: Interpreting another artist's work

Online music blogs fascinate me.  Because I'm an avid reader and passionate about music, I could easily lose myself perusing online music blogs if only I had enough hours in a day.  There's always something waiting to be read and an artist looking to be discovered.

Online music blogs/ Keeping up with our favorite cutting-edge artists

Just as the iPod has changed the way we routinely listen to music, online music blogs have changed the way we're able to maintain a pulse with our favorite cutting-edge musicians and the music industry, too.  No longer must we rely on daily newspapers or music magazines as the only sources for music news. With online music blogs, there's a sense of immediacy ~ urgency, maybe? ~ and many of the good ones worth reading are always adding new content to keep us coming back for more.  Also, many online music blogs offer links to listen to or legally download mp3s of the artists they are writing about.

While some of my favorite online music blogs include: Britain's New Music Express Daily Download (, Direct Current (, and Naive Harmonies ( ~ and there's even a music blog aggregator, Elbows ( that's great help in searching for everything written about a particular artist like Elvis Costello ~ there are a couple of great music blogs which are endless sources for finding new, recent and interesting covers of original songs. They are: Cover Me ( and Cover Lay Down (

I find great interest in listening to artists interpreting other artist's work and, often, online music blogs provide us with keen insight and, occasionally, back stories about the covers.  I credit both "covers" blogs for inspiring me to search for ~ and discover ~ new, recent and classic covers. 

Among the covers I've recently discovered and have been listening to include:

* "No Cars Go" by Maxence Cyrin (original by Arcade Fire).

* "The Needle and the Damage Done" by Laura Marling from Ghosts (original by Neil Young).

* "Alone and Forsaken" by Emmylou Harris from Timeless: Hank Williams Tribute (original by Hank Williams).

* "Let's Dance" by M. Ward from Transfiguration of Vincent (original by David Bowie).

* "Your Song" by Ellie Goulding from Lights (original by Elton John). 

* "Can't Find My Way Home" by Alison Krauss from Crossing Jordan Soundtrack (original by Blind Faith).

Sometimes, the artists are new to me like Maxence Cyrin, a classically trained, French pianist with a penchant for wonderfully interpreting cutting-edge indie artists like Arcade Fire, Radiohead and Massive Attack, that make me curious to explore more of their work.

Laura Marling/ Showing maturity covering a legend like Neil Young

Other artists, such as 20-year-old British folk revivalist Laura Marling, are quickly becoming recognized by everyone, period. Not only is she building a nice foundation with her own material full of lyricism and melody, but she's also showing great maturity early in her career to cover a legend such as Neil Young.

Until the other day, I had no idea that longtime favorite M. Ward had covered David Bowie's "Let's Dance" ~ and, although the lyrics are the same, you won't immediate recognize the tune.  

The same goes for Ellie Goulding, who does a sweet version of the 1970 Elton John hit, "Your Song," that strips the song bare ~ it's just the singer baring her soul, backed by a piano and some simple strings. 

And, who knew that Alison Krauss could add so much poignancy and the right touch of bluegrass to "Can't Find My Way Home," the 1969 chestnut by British blues-rock super group Blind Faith that was originally sung by Stevie Winwood?  

Finally, with Emmylou Harris covering Hank Williams, it's simply one country legend paying tribute to another ~ and Emmylou have covered some of the best over the years.  I remember early in her career, Harris paid her due to another music legend, the Beatles, by beautifully covering "Here, There and Everywhere" on her 1975 album Elite Hotel that brought out the simplicity and lush melody of the Lennon-McCartney ballad.

Here are links to enjoy listening to some of the covers I've recently discovered that are worth a listen or two:

M. Ward:

Emmylou Harris:

Ellie Goulding:  

Alison Krauss:

There are many more out there for the discovery.

Happy listening!

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