I’ve Got You Covered

20 Aug

This year it has been difficult for me to get excited about new bands or albums (hence no new post since last November). Excluding Adele’s latest offering, 21, I have only heard a few singles here and there that have sparked any sort of interest or inspiration. Recently, I’ve found myself dipping back into some old favorites as well as challenging Pandora to as many random stations as I can think of. The latter has opened me up to a few cover songs that created an instant love crush, which lead me to revisit my own collection and track down some coveted cover songs.

A list of five, while sufficient, is certainly not comprehensive. One trend I noticed is that I prefer covers of songs originated by the opposite sex. To me, it creates a more universal image of the person being lusted after and inspires me to listen to the words rather than the object. I also realized that often times it was the phrasing of the song that I fell in love with, rather than the arrangement or the artist.

In no particular order, here are five of my favorite cover songs:

Nina Simone1) Nina Simone – To Love Somebody

Released by the BeeGee’s in 1967 and since covered by over 30 artists including a recent love, The Gadsdens, the upbeat and soulful Nina Simone still beats out the competition with this pervasive track. This is one of the few songs in my collection that, depending on my mood, can make me smile or cry as soon as I hear the opening.

Amy Winehouse2) Amy Winehouse – Valerie

That magical combination and collaboration of Mark Ronson and Amy Winhouse has come to an end, but this track from his 2007 release, Version, is ingrained in my memory and a constant on my iPod. Even though The Zutons had a decent amount of success with the original, it doesn’t jump up and smack me around like the Amy Winehouse version.

José González3) José González – Heartbeats

It was love at first listen when I heard the Swedish electropop duo, The Knife, a few years ago, and I’m fairly certain that I’ve listened to their Heartbeats over 1,000 times. While on a recent Pandora binge I heard this angel coming through the speakers. Completely stripped of the electro beats and the eccentric vocals of Karin Andersson, this song felt fresh and completely raw, and manages to overwhelm me every time I listen to it.

Roberta Flack4) Roberta Flack – Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye

This one is a perfectly good example of why phrasing wins my affection. Leonard Cohen’s original is lovely, but feels dated and almost awkward to me. Roberta’s addition of the piano and her way of being so incredibly quiet while carrying a big stick of emotion makes me want to curl up into a ball and never leave my apartment…in a good way.

Jeff Buckley5) Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah

My second Cohen song on the list (poor guy keeps losing out!), this one has been glorified by pretty much every single person who has ever heard it. Buckley’s range and openness were his most charming features, and his ability to make his audience feel exposed and connected was his greatest talent. His version of Lilac Wine almost made it on the list and would have continued in the tradition of my love of opposite sex covers.

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One Response to “I’ve Got You Covered”

  1. Aric Vinacke August 20, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    Amy Winehouse – Valerie…. great song.

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