This week’s Monday Mixtape is brought to you by Tori Egherman of Arseh Sevom , a great organization that brings out important and well researched stories and reports about the state of Iranian civil society. I very much recommend that you visit their site and like their facebook . When I asked Tori to send us her favorite songs she in face sent us a list she dubbed: Breathing New Meaning into Old Songs: Covers I Love
A good friend of mine was visiting me in Amsterdam some years ago and everywhere we went we heard one lifeless version of a great tune after another. Finally fed up, she turned to me and said, “How do they do that? How do they take a great song and suck all the soul out of it?”
This post features covers by artists who have so re-imagined the originals that they are transformed and surprising with the soul firmly in place. I’ll begin with the cover I’ve got on endless repeat right now: Hit ‘Em Up Style from the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Their version is picked clean, sharper than the original, and infused with righteous anger:
In case you forgot the original made popular by Blu Cantrell, it’s here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMOKlXfXn50.
When Leonard Cohen sings I’m Your Man, I think, “He’s my man. Yeah mine… someone I can depend on through thick and thin.” When Nick Cave
sings it though — well, that’s something else. It’s erotic and explicit, sweaty and visceral. It makes my heart palpitate and my mouth water. I love you, Leonard Cohen, but it’s Nick Cave I want.
Leonard Cohen’s original is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iW8rFho6In8
Like many people who were young in the 80s, I am a huge Clash fan. I saw them live in the Aragon ballroom in Chicago sometime or another
before they stopped touring. There were no seats, and we danced with a kind of rage and energy that was powerful and fresh. When I listen to
them now, their songs sound surprisingly mild and melodic. Nouvelle Vague has done some breathtaking covers of the Clash (Guns of Brixton
comes to mind: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyBarlNnUuU) and Lily Allen’s version of Straight to Hell
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weqeO50hOSY deserves a good listen, but in the spirit of the times, I want to highlight Rachid Taha’s version
of Rock the Casbah. It just seems like great timing for a rebirth of this song, and Rachid Taha really brings it home.
(Listen to the original here:
My final recommendation for today is Ramblin’ Man from the Residents. It wasn’t until I listened to the Residents perform the Hank Williams classic that I understood just how dark the original really was. It can be found here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IqlI91Vj7Y. Listen to both… isn’t it clear the ramblin man just killed his girlfriend and buried her in the
woods? Or am I crazy?
I hope to be invited back to the Mezrab Blog because I’ve got a lot of covers to cover. I hope you, dear readers, will introduce me to even more. Leave your suggestions in the comments section, and make sure they’re dark and gritty.