Category: Blind Willie Johnson

Elseblog: Dylan Covers Week at Star Maker Machine Plus: The Sacred Shakers, Mo Pair cover Blind Willie Johnson

October 5th, 2008 — 02:07 pm

We’re going through some exciting times here at Cover Lay Down. Just yesterday we announced a thrilling new partnership with Philly folk artist Denison Witmer; today, I’m helping kick off a week-long exploration of Dylan Covers over at Star Maker Machine, where I am proud to be a regular contributor. So far, covers have included everything from Manfred Mann to U2 to Sonic Youth, not to mention not one but two Jimi Hendrix covers, neither one of which is the one you’re thinking of; not a bad early mix for a blog that usually experiences a slow Sunday kick-off before whirling into the workweek with the usual growing set of thematic song.

My own first Dylan Covers post at the collaborative this week is a doozy of an exploration of the traditional song In My Time Of Dying, which was first recorded by Blind Willie Johnson in the late 1920s, and made famous when Dylan recorded it for his first album. The post examines Dylan’s role in bringing older blues forms into popular music, the long-lasting effects of which continue to reverberate through the folkworld, though surely Dylan’s iconographic power in bringing such songs forward was as much a product of cultural timing as it was skill and passion. I’m pretty proud of it, and I think folks who would have liked it here will like it there just as much.

The entry over at Star Maker Machine is written with the depth and cultural grounding I aspire to here at Cover Lay Down, and yesterday’s post announcing our new partnership with Denison Witmer was pretty exhaustive, too; given the effort expended, I hope no one minds if I treat this pair of featurettes as sufficient verbiage to stand for our usual weekend feature-as-promised. I’d be remiss, however, if I didn’t add some value here, if only to push the usual mp3 aggregators to pick up the post. So here’s a paired pair of covers and “first recordings” of other tunes made popular by Blind Willie Johnson, while we’re on the subject; if you like ‘em, grab the Blind Willie Johnson box set, pick up the self-titled album from new gospel swingfolkers The Sacred Shakers, and get more from Austin bluesfolker Mo Pair.

So keep an eye on Star Maker Machine this week, folks; given the vast breadth of taste represented in our little collaborative, you can expect a busy week of great music and writing, suitable for even the most avid covers collector. If you’re eager for even more Dylan covers, feel free to check out the archives here for many, many Bob Dylan covers, most notably nine separate versions of Girl from the North Country. And don’t forget to come on back Wednesday for our usual midweek feature, and Friday for our next installment in The Denison Witmer Covers Project.

Speaking of elseblog: For more covertalk and song from the broader bloggiverse, I highly recommend this lovely, highly diverse set of 80s covers over at Fong Songs, whose host has finally returned to the coverfold after several weeks of obsessing about The White Stripes, Amanda Palmer, Ben Folds, and the Large Hadron Collider. Especially noteworthy: a stellar Huey Lewis and the News cover from Cover Lay Down favorite Glen Phillips, and the wry touch radio folkstar Shawn Mullins brings to his acoustic take on Wham classic Wake Me Up Before You Go Go. Check it out: seeing Fong at his coverblogging best is a genuine joy.

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