Category: Single Shot Coverfolk

Single Song Saturday: A 9/11 Memorial

September 11th, 2010 — 01:18 pm

We’ve got a full post coming tomorrow, as usual. But I couldn’t let today go by without saying something about the way that music crawls into our psyche and stays there, especially in times of crisis and loss, when we most need it.

Only it turns out I’ve said it before. May this song, and the words which accompany it, serve you as they have served me on this day of remembrance.

This Simon and Garfunkel cover, recorded at a Philadelphia concert in August of 2001 just a month before the world changed irrevocably in the wake of 9/11, has long been one of my favorite coversongs, hands down. Some of that is the performance – it’s hard not to hear the hope and despair, the loneliness and love in this song come together perfectly in Shawn Colvin‘s sweet, soaring vocals. But some of it is the context, the pure coincidental combination of time and space, my favorite folksinger in the prime of her pre-pop career, the innocence we all felt just before the skies came crumbling down: the plane in the first line, the lonely city of the lyrics, the sentiment of saying that we’re all gone half of the time, and we don’t know where, but here I am, alive and grounded…

For me, it’s personal. I had a friend of sorts on the second plane to hit the World Trade Centers on 9/11 – a fact I only discovered after I had spent the morning watching his soaring coffin smash into an office building over and over and over again on TV, without knowing it was him in that metal and glass. Like so many coworkers, he was one of those friends that was always on the verge of becoming closer, except life kept getting in the way – in fact, we were due to head out for a drink the week afterwards, our first true outing outside of work, but to be honest, we had cancelled a couple of dates in the months before, and there’s good chance we might not have made it then, either.

Music hits us funny, sometimes; I have no idea how all this stuff got tangled up in this song, this performance, this moment for me in the first place. But I can say that listening to this song – any version or performance, really, but this one especially – hurts, now. And I’m sorry, in a way, though we need sad songs as much as we need happy ones, perhaps more.

But it will always and forever be my best way of remembering my almost-friend, of thinking about the worlds that could have been. I will forever hear it in my head when I see the towers fall, in photos and on video. And since the world will never forget, I will never forget my friend, either, I guess.

And for that, I offer it back to the world. With thanks for the time we have, though it is never as much as we hope it will be.

We miss you, Chris.

This post exists because of the Shawn Colvin cover above – if you haven’t downloaded it yet, now’s the time. But this Everything But The Girl version isn’t bad, either, especially when you factor in the video images and that etherial choir…

1,005 comments » | Shawn Colvin, Simon and Garfunkel, Single Shot Coverfolk

Indie Friday: Great Lakes cover John Prine

September 10th, 2010 — 12:51 pm

We don’t usually drift too far into the indiepop music scene, mostly because so much of it is, at its core, less folk than otherwise. But with the recent departure of original lyricist Dan Donahue, Ways of Escape, the impending new release from NY-by-way-of-Athens band Great Lakes, represents a significant shift in their core sound – something not quite unlike what would happen if Belle and Sebastian had spent too much time listening to a bunch of old Graham Nash records, and then decided to go all-out alt-country without losing their core indiepop sound – and I think there’s something here that folk fans will truly love.

As the sole remaining founder of the band, Ben Crum has organized a well-seasoned crowd of indie players – including sidemen and -women from Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Beirut, and Ryan Adams – to great effect, creating in the process a delightful album that comes across as a diverse yet perfectly balanced slice of post-Americana, with tracks that range from the dark, freewheeling, almost psychedelic grunge rock of Summer of Woe and Ghost Brother to the country-tinged indiepop of Half Your Life Gone to the delicate balladry of Summer Fruit. Most songs sport the full-band instrumentation you’d expect of such a collaborative effort, and it’s a wonderful sound, rich and catchy as hell. But acoustic tracks like Summer Fruit and the album’s sole cover, a take on John Prine’s Sour Grapes, are also worth savoring: sparse and quietly stunning, with sweet vocal harmonies from Suzanne Nienaber delicately balanced against Crum’s mournful, slightly ragged vocals.

Ways of Escape drops October 12, which is plenty of time for the usual indie bloggers to keep the buzz going – and this album certainly deserves all the buzz it can get. So here’s that John Prine cover to whet your whistle while you wait for the full release.

Great Lakes: Sour Grapes (orig. John Prine)

1,200 comments » | Great Lakes, Single Shot Coverfolk

Single Shot Coverfolk: Venice Is Sinking cover Galaxie 500
Plus bonus Dream Pop covers from Dean Wareham past and present

May 28th, 2010 — 08:36 pm

Dreampop has always been defined by its lush atmosphere. But though we’ve come a long way since the mopey guitar-driven sounds of Galaxie 500 filled my adolescent ears, the sparser side of the genre has crept onto these pages several times, most recently through the delicate soundscapes of This Mortal Coil, and the post-millennial work of Dean and Britta, helmed by Luna founder and one-time Galaxie 500 guitarist Dean Wareham.

Today, we start the long weekend with an irresistibly mellow cover from Athens-based dream-slash-orchestral pop quintet Venice Is Sinking, who take the dream pop journey full circle, bringing beloved 1988 Galaxie 500 single Tugboat down to the level of acoustic folk, albeit with a touch of Death Cab’s buzz and Calexico’s horns. Even with its chaotic build and crescendo, the song, which appears on the band’s upcoming acoustic release Sand & Lines: The Georgia Theatre Sessions, makes a strong case for inclusion of the softer side of the genre among the various folkforms. The album, a spacious, utterly devastating set recorded in the now-defunct Georgia Theater, also includes Dolly Parton and Waylon Jennings covers among equally dreamy originals; head over now to preorder.

Bonus Track:

Don’t forget to click on the other two band names above to check out some other dreampop coverage. And because the singer-songwriter Harvard alum has been one of very few constants in my musical upbringing, here’s some additional bonus tracks from the Dean Wareham canon, a nomination of sorts for his inclusion in the folkstream:

Cover Lay Down posts new coverfolk features and sets every Wednesday, Sunday, and the occasional otherday.

1,625 comments » | Dean Wareham, Dream Pop, Single Shot Coverfolk

Single Shot Coverfolk: Norah Jones covers Wilco

December 6th, 2009 — 04:51 pm

A midday quickie, just for you: Norah Jones covering Wilco in the Sirius Radio studios, with nothing but bass, acoustic guitar, and tight vocal harmonies, in anticipation of a full acoustic performance to be broadcast Dec. 10 at 7:00 EST [details here]. It’s not a Christmas song, but it IS Jesus’ birthday in a few weeks, and this is just too beautiful not to spread around.

Norah Jones: Jesus, Etc. (orig. Wilco)

Live versions of the same cover from the recent Bridge School benefit have also been floating around the interwebs; check out Copy Cats and Muzzle of Bees for performance vids, one incomplete and the other grainy, both complete with minimal crowd noise, each worth celebrating nonetheless.

In other news, I’ve started posting more cover-heavy contributions over at the Star Maker Machine collaborative; head on over for versions of sixties classic Stoned Soul Picnic from Jill Sobule and Laura Love, Chris Smither and Emmylou Harris versions of Jesse Winchester’s Thanks To You, and a swingfolk cover of Guy Clark’s Homegrown Tomatoes. Plus originals in all cases, for comparison’s sake.

And stay tuned later this week for two very exciting features just in time for holiday giftgiving: a look at UK singer-songwriter Kate Rusby, whose album of traditional Christmas carols has just been rereleased, and an exploration of some great late 2009 Kidfolk releases, including new work from Dan Zanes, a holiday album from Putumayo Kids, and a tribute to the guy who wrote that song from Juno.

577 comments » | Norah Jones, Single Shot Coverfolk, Uncategorized