Friday night, while scrolling through my iPhone’s Photo Library, I came across ancient family photos that I imported via the Photomyne app while packing for our Big Move in late 2018. When used, taking a picture of a page in a photo album results in auto-cropped files for each photo thereon. The big plus: It’s faster and easier than the scanning process, as it only requires a click. It also, obviously, preserves the integrity of the album(s). The downside: The quality, as shown to the left (that’s me in the early 1970s), is nowhere near as good as a scan. As thumbnails, the photos of photos look okay – washed-out, but good enough to recall the moment in time. Up close, however, they’re somewhat blotchy and pixelated.
Cover songs work in similar fashion. At their best, they’re metaphoric pipelines to and from the collective unconscious, shedding insights not just into the singer and song, but all who have braved the same musical journey. At their worst, they’re little more than carbon copies of the original, somewhat faded and hard to hear, but enjoyable nonetheless.
And, with that out of the way, here’s Today’s Top 5: Cover Songs, Vol. 55…
1) Courtney Marie Andrews – “One of These Days.” This Neil Young song (originally from Harvest Moon) is obviously dear to CMA’s heart, as she’s covered it before.
2) Phoebe Bridgers – “If We Make It Through December.” So, a few years back, I compiled a list of songs Courtney Marie should cover… and this Merle Haggard song was one of them. To my ears and heart, it’s one of the greatest songs written about making it through tough times – and Bridgers does it justice.
3) Malin Pettersen and Darling West – “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” This is a haunting beautiful rendition of a song that is, itself, hauntingly beautiful.
4) Margo Price – “River.” Who hasn’t covered this non-Christmas song? Yet when it’s done right, as it is by Ms. Price, who can complain? The heart aches while listening to it.
5) Molly Tuttle – “White Rabbit.” Molly boards the Jefferson Airplane for a flight high above the clouds with this very cool rendition of a Summer of Love standard.
And one bonus…
Scary Pockets featuring Rett Madison – “I’m on Fire.” I’m somewhat over covers of this Boss tune, as the Staves’ rendition from a few years back sort of made all others moot. But this kind of redraws the blueprint. (Rett, by the way, is an up-and-coming L.A.-based singer-songwriter – her recent single, “Kerosene,” absolutely smokes; and Scary Pockets is a funk band with a knack for cool covers.)