Cover Songs

March 17, 2008 - By

My March IMP mix got me thinking about the art of covering a song. When a band decides
to cover a song, they have to decide: Should I bother?
There are two outlets for bands playing covers:

1) AT A SHOW: be it a stadium or a pub, covers are always welcome. It’s good to have a
couple safety crowd-pleasers to get things going.
2) FOR RECORDING: that’s where it can get sticky.

Things can go wrong covering songs. Either the band will try a different
interpretation that ruins the song, or they just rehash the same weaknesses in a song
without adding to it. It’s a dicey game. There are songs that should never EVER be

Not all covers work out. Any Pink Floyd fan will tell you that every song on Dark Side
was recorded perfectly the first time, and should be off-limits. It’s cool when fans
back up songs like that.

What’s not as cool is when an artist says that. Rod Stewart had the nerve to say that
he felt “Maggie May” was recorded perfectly… THEN he went and covered Louis
Armstrong’s “Wonderful World”. If that song wasn’t perfect, I don’t know what is.
Please drop me some comments of songs you don’t think should be covered… and if
you’re in a band, please cover Maggie May. It doesn’t have to be good.

This months mix (Take Cover!) for me has great examples of covers. Of Montreal’s take on the Shins’ “Know your Onion!” stays true to the simplicities of the song, while marrying Of
Montreals signature sound. Very close to the original, while keeping fresh.
The Arcade Fire’s version of ‘Distortions’ to me is a great homage to a band that
doesn’t get the following they deserve.

I had never heard of Hard-Fi before, but they did a wicked job of changing Seven
Nation Army. They changed the feel and the identifying bassline, but kept the essence
of the song.

This mix has a few gems like Dawn Landes “Young Folks” that bridge genres on songs,
which can be dangerous, but sometimes works out.


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This post was written by ArleyM