30 day music challenge
Day 15: A song that has been covered by another artist.
I was going to go with Brandon Boyd’s vast improvement on Elvis Costello’s Alison, but with all the chatter about Timelapse Consortium during the past couple of days, I thought something progressive would be appropriate. So here’s early Yes with a brilliant cover of Paul Simon’s America. My other idea was to focus just on the tons of great covers of Bob Dylan’s work, my favorites being Rage Against the Machine’s version of Maggie’s Farm, The Dead Weather’s New Pony, Eric Clapton’s Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, The Pretenders’ Forever Young, and the Band’s I Shall Be Released. Probably the most famous take on the latter was done by Joe Cocker, and of all the bazillions of Beatles covers, I think the best is his version of With A Little Help From My Friends. Then there’s Linda Ronstadt, who pretty much did nothing but covers, many of them great, but none better than her version of Neil Young’s Birds. (She covered Alison too, by the way.) I could go on and on forever with this, but I’ll just mention three more: the Chili Peppers’ cover of Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground, Chris Cornell’s cover of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, and the Foo Fighters’ cover of Arcade Fire’s Keep the Car Running.
Linda Ronstadt - Ramblin’ Round (Woody Guthrie cover)
Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Woody Guthrie.
Jimi Hendrix - The Star Spangled Banner (live at Woodstock, 1969)
It’s Independence Day here in the U.S., and since this is primarily a music-related blog, I feel compelled to go on a bit of a rant about our unfortunate choice of national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. I seem to recall reading somewhere that Linda Ronstadt (who sang it at a baseball game back in the 70s) described it as “a turkey of a song,” and I have to agree. It’s not a bad poem, but it’s really hard to sing, most people can neither remember nor understand the lyrics, and it’s about a war. I guess I’m just one of those pinkos who’d much prefer something like Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land. I’d even put in a vote for God Bless America (atheist that I am), because it’s just a better song, as is America the Beautiful. And I’m not alone in this. Every once in awhile, someone starts a campaign to have the national anthem changed, but it never goes anywhere. Maybe someday someone will be successful, but until then, if you have to listen, let it be the Jimi Hendrix version - the only one that nails it, in my humble opinion.
Linda Ronstadt - Birds (Neil Young cover)
Linda Ronstadt - Colorado
Not the kind of thing I usually post, but I’m in Colorado at a family reunion, enjoying the fresh air and finding out all kinds of things I never knew about my cousins. One of their husbands just told me his brother dated Linda Ronstadt back in the day.
Renaissance - Carpet of the Sun
Recent mentions of Heart and Linda Ronstadt have got me thinking about female voices from the 70s, including one of my favorites - Annie Haslam from Renaissance. Carpet of the Sun, from the album Ashes are Burning, was their biggest hit, but I always preferred the title track.
30 day Incubus challenge
Day 20: Your favorite song that Incubus has covered.
Not sure this qualifies, because I think it’s Brandon Boyd without Incubus, but it’s Elvis Costello’s Alison. Back in the day, Linda Ronstadt did kind of a nice version too, but I seem to remember reading somewhere that Costello didn’t like it, and called it a “waste of vinyl.” I don’t know what he thinks of Brandon Boyd’s version, but in my mind, it’s one of those rare examples of a cover that is better than the original.