Covers – a bit of frivolity

Since posting about the intended remake of The Craft, I’ve not been able to get the Letters to Cleo cover for the Cars’ Dangerous Type out of my head. I have a sort of love-hate relationship with cover songs … the majority of them, I truly dislike; but for the few that I like, I like them better than the originals. I have decided to add this song to the list of these few cover songs.

  • Johnny Cash’s cover of Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt – it’s Johnny Cash, and he’s singing Nine Inch Nails in a way that makes the listener believe the song might have been written by Trent Reznor for Johnny Cash. This isn’t a knock against NIN … I think it’s just a foregone conclusion when Johnny Cash wants to sing a song you wrote about pain and suffering, that he’s going to make it his.
  • Soft Cell’s cover of Gloria Jones’ Tainted Love – a classic cover, and for very good reason!
  • The BossHoss’ cover of Dolly Parton’s Jolene – this one had to grow on me, as I think Dolly Parton’s voice, especially when she didn’t go all-out, is to this day not easy to top. Also, it was an adjustment to hear the male voices from The BossHoss in this song … but in the end I think the song and the video are good enough that I do prefer them over the original.
  • Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ cover of AC / DC’s Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap – this is my all-time favorite cover, hands-down. The funny thing is, I grew up listening to some of their music (as well as AC / DC) and didn’t stumble across this song until much later in life. I generally enjoy AC / DC’s music and was shocked to see a woman taking over the vocals – for this, of all songs! – but all I needed was the first half minute of the song to realize that Joan Jett took this song, made it hers, and improved upon it in ways I guess only she could have done. That she had a superb band backing her up certainly helped; but it was her vocals that really made this cover stand out. It’s not the only song they covered; but in my opinion, even the ever-popular I Love Rock ‘n Roll cover doesn’t come close to this.
  • and now, Letters to Cleo’s cover of the Cars’ Dangerous Type.

What are some of your favorite cover songs?

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21 responses to “Covers – a bit of frivolity

    • In 100% agreement with you on this … NIN made a great song for people to listen to; but Johnny Cash made the listener actually feel the song in a way that Reznor didn’t.

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      • Johnny Cash had Death in his body. He understood what it means to say : “Everyone I know goes away in the End” As much as we loved TR, he was like 29 and full of vitality. Of course it speaks of depression, sensibility and it and regrets. Cash’s version speaks of the END.

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      • Extremely good points – my question is, would Johnny Cash have been able to make that song his even when he was young and in his prime? I suspect he could have … there was always a sort of earthy openness when Johnny Cash sang. His voice was, even in his protest songs, devoid of the vitriolic rage that Trent Reznor infused into his music.

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  1. This is a great list. I’m surprised people know of Boss Hoss. Or who did the original version of tainted love . As a former rock journalist I am very impressed. Joan Jett mostly does covers but she subverts them by being a woman a lot of the time , adding something new. I read a quote by her that says something like ” pop songs are about what I want you to do to me , rock songs are about what I’m going to do to you.” Since women usually are seen as passively sexual for her to sing aggressively sexual songs without any cutesy ironic nonsense makes them more dangerous in the way that rock ‘n roll was supposed to be dangerous . I think. But then again I’m dedicated to Freya. LOL!

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    • Oh, no reason to be impressed! I live in Germany, where I think most have heard of the Boss Hoss :-) Originally, I didn’t like them very much – I considered what I heard to be more like a parody than anything else, for which I think we still have Weird Al. But as their music has matured a bit, they seem to have relaxed and come into their own … some of their music I still don’t much care for, but some I happen to like quite a bit. And the affected accents don’t much bother me these days, either … they have either improved their accents, toned them down, or I’ve simply been away from Texas long enough! As for Tainted Love, I remembered that Soft Cell covered it; but I’ll admit I had to look up the original artist. Joan Jett … I agree with you on all points! She is someone who obviously ‘got’ Rock from a very early age and embraced it. I won’t claim I was always a fan of hers … there was a time, back when a fat man could go on stage and sing his own music, where I preferred Country-Western music to Rock. Perhaps it’s no accident that it was around the time that Country-Western went really Pop that my music inclinations shifted to Metal and Punk … by that point, I’m guessing (because it happened too long ago for me to really remember) that Joan Jett was simply too pretty for me to really gravitate towards on a musical level. This, if anything, only denotes my shortcomings as a youth – as I got older and actually paid attention to finer details, Joan Jett’s genius was easy enough for me to understand and enjoy. It’s this same process of maturity that also allowed me to look through the more Pop-oriented approach of the Offspring to Punk (not counting their Horror-Punk album) and see the genius in their music, as well. The Offspring remain to this day my all-time favorite band; and my respect for Joan Jett is considerable :-)

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      • Wow, I’ve never heard a man say that a woman being attractive made it hard to enjoy her music before. That’s really interesting. Because today I don’t know how many women musicians are musicians as opposed to just how they look. But it’s the same for men in rock/pop and now especially with new country , look a lot like punks did in the 1990s with the garage rock thing .

        There are bands where the guys are too pretty for me to deal with seeing them. It’s funny that bands like Duran Duran, they appealed to young teenagers. Like Justin Bieber. There is something really sexually harmless about either’s look. They are so ambiguous , cute but not threatening sexually . Joan Jett is kind of sexually threatening , not in a bad scary way but in a feeling uncomfortable and aware of sexuality way , like she has some power . It could never imagine that someone from Kajagogo would lure you with sexual energy , they were like puppets you could play with in your head, totally harmless people. Who knows if they were, but when I was a rock journalist and this is about rock, I never did anything with pop , I said that a song should make you want to fuck or fight if it is rock. It’s always been dangerous and it should still feel that way . The way that it in the 1950s and 1960s terrified people that white and black kids were dancing together to the same music . And what was Elvis Presley doing with his hips?

        If you’d like that real kind of country music , did you hear old dogs which had Waylon Jennings and three other superstars ? They do this great song “still gonna die” written by Shell Silverstein , yes, the poet who did those children’s books , and it’s our favorite song to play when I go out my four times a year to the doctor two hours away . Another favorite is David Allan coe doing long-haired redneck . There is an alternative country band I like from Toronto called the Sadies, I knew them when I lived there, their father ( there are two brothers that make up the core of the band I think) is one of the good brothers, a popular country and western band from Canada . Their last name is good. Well, their uncle from the good brothers is who Gordon Lightfoot wrote Sundown about. Which is a good song too.

        I covered all of the 1990 garoge rock stuff, Billy childish , the makers ( honestly the nicest most wonderful guys I’ve ever met in a band and I know I’m the only person in the world who is ever said that LOL ) , the Oblivians , everything Estrus and Crypt and Dionysus and bag of hammers , Teengenerate. It was a really great time. I’ve been completely obsessed with music since I was a little kid. I played the Beach Boys on the wrong speed for a year and I think that explains my love for the Ramones! LOL. I been on an early Aerosmith kick and Warsaw, the band before Joy division kick and I am a really big fan of Nina Hagen in the 1980s , I saw her at the Ritz in New York City in 1989 I think. Trio as well. And of course Kraftwerk. Germany doesn’t get much attention for the bands that actually make it to the American audience. I heard that there is a big German new-wave revival happening? Of Germany nuwavebands ? What are those bands so I can look them up on YouTube? Or was that completely false information ! I just remember that everybody had really good shows in Germany from the garage rock era. But then again Germany is where the Monks could actually be on television , I love that band. I actually bought the memoirs one of them wrote for my first husband who was in a garage rock band, I became Canadian from marriage , and the guy who wrote the book sent a really nice letter.

        Enough music geekery!

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      • Wow, I’ve never heard a man say that a woman being attractive made it hard to enjoy her music before.” – What you just heard was a man saying that when he was a youth (I was all of 8 when I heard “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” the first time), he found the woman too distractingly pretty to really appreciate her music ;-) I still find her to be quite pretty; but as I said, I can also enjoy and appreciate her music.

        I played the Beach Boys on the wrong speed for a year and I think that explains my love for the Ramones!” – I read once in an interview with the Ramones, when they were asked what motivated them to create Punk Rock, that they did so mainly because Simon & Garfunkel were considered ‘Rock’ at the time. What a perfectly great reason to create Punk Rock!

        As for New Wave, I think here in Germany it’s complicated. As an actual movement, the New German Wave didn’t last so long; but as an influence, it is still active. Electronic music is still very popular in Germany – and thankfully there are a lot of German bands who like to sing primarily in German (releasing songs in English from time to time in order to tap a more international market). Nena is currently appearing in a television show with, among others, The BossHoss where they take turns singing each others’ songs. Trio still gets played. Nina Hagen put out an album a few years ago. If you are a fan of Punk, I would recommend Toten Hosen – they were active in the early ’80’s and are still together and putting out good music. Another you might like is Wir Sind Helden. Or Silbermond. It’s not the Rock you’re used to – Dark Wave, actually – but you might find Wolfsheim interesting. Peter Heppner is one of the few male singers I’ve ever listened to who could make the German language sound gentle.

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      • I am writing these all down! I have a really diverse taste in music anyway. I think it mostly is just what I like as a teenager though. Patti Smith , Johnny thunders, modern lovers, the first Ultravox album , early Nina Hagen when she sang in German , MC five, stooges , Buzzcocks , stiff Little fingers, public enemy, violent femmes , plus a lot of stuff from the 60s like the kinks , the animals , the Standels, plus the Motown stuff and the girl bands .

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      • Wow – you do like to browse around when it comes to music! Honestly, half of what you listed here, I’ve never even heard of, and I used to think that I had a fairly informed and diverse taste in music! Bravo! :-)

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      • You were eight years old, okay that makes a lot more sense LOL! I was about not that much older. I didn’t think she was pretty , I kept trying to look like Nina Hagen when she had all that messy porcupine hair that was bright pink or bright red . Actually I don’t think I noticed if people were pretty or not , and this is still something about me, I noticed their style and I also pay attention to how subconscious they are about it. The more that it seems like it is an affect, the harder it is for me . I had so many issues with David Bowie growing up! I wanted stability and he was just not giving me that LOL! I developed a theory that he was like a condiment that makes everybody else sound better. When he worked with Iggy or with T Rex, that’s their best stuff. So maybe it was just cocaine that made them sound better LOL! Have you ever seen the cartoon on TV the venture Brothers ? For a couple of seasons the arch villain in charge of the guild of I think malicious intent or something was David Bowie . ” here come the warm Jets!” And Brian Eno is there ! It was pretty brilliant . There was a gated community for the villains , a town called malice , like the song by the jam.

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      • Beauty is a complicated (and at the same time, simple) subject for me – it has always been this way, at least as far as I can remember. I look at a person as a whole – this includes what you wrote, along with just about everything else I can think of when I look at someone – and it is the total sum that I either find attractive or not. This is also partly why, at the age of eight, I was able to consider someone attractive to the point of distraction. It had (at that age) very little to do with the raging hormones of my distantly-impending teenage years, and everything to do with simple admiration for a person’s beauty. I really like your theory with regards to David Bowie :-) Venture Brothers, however, is something I have never seen :-(

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      • We probably will at some point – it usually takes a while for some things to make their way across the Atlantic. Although the Shannara show seemed to make it over here pretty quickly … I could check on Amazon later to see if it’s available through their Prime service.

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  2. The Gathering did a beautiful cover of one of my most beloved Dead Can Dance songs, “In Power We Entrust The Love Advocated”.

    Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Dear Prudence” cover is another one of my favorites.

    BossHoss’s version of “Jolene” isn’t half-bad. But the 80’s underage dance club girl in me remains partial to Strawberry Switchblade’s cover :) I think both Johnny Cash and Trent Reznor sing their hearts out- As to which one I like better is dependent on my mood ;-)

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    • Dead Can Dance is a band I haven’t heard in a very long time – I used to really like them! I think the Strawberry Switchblade cover earns points just for reinterpreting it as well as they did to a different genre altogether – I can honestly say I’d never listened to any of their music before until reading your comment, thank you :-) As for “Dear Prudence,” the Siouxsie and the Banshees cover is one I enjoy a lot more than the original; but I’m also probably one of maybe three people in the world who think that the Beatles were overrated ;-) I like your taste in music – thank you for sharing this side of you here!

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  3. DCD is hands down the best band I have ever heard live. My intro to them was in late 1985~somewhere in the middle of “Flowers of the Sea” I realized I was salivating, lol. In Power We Entrust the Love Advocated was one of those great teenage angst love songs in a time where my boyfriends and I shared lipstick, eyeliner, and copious amounts of Aqua Net ;-) For me DCD was the best of Cocteau Twins and Bauhaus all rolled into one! Ciao!

    BTW Stormwise, I like your taste in music too :-D

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    • Sharing lipstick with a girlfriend is something I have never done … I wore lipstick only once as a teenager, for Halloween, when I dressed as a prostitute. I drew the line at shaving off my beard, though … I guess I wasn’t very pretty, despite the girl at my school who dressed as a pimp and kept slapping my rump and telling me to get back to work!

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  4. One of my ex boyfriends brothers played drums with dead can dance ! It’s a very small world. Dear Prudence is the only song I have by the banshees as an MP3 – the rest are all albums . I didn’t know if anybody else like that song.

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  5. I am putting together – well I put it together – 90 pages of writing about pagan values and ethics to send to the women in prison . And I put your blog post about it in the compilation ! I wanted them to understand that this is a religion and start thinking about what their own values and ethics are and then how to bring that into the way that they live their lives . What you wrote was really spectacular because it shows the process – I think it will be helpful. I want them to be involved with the “outside” and one thing that pagans are often discussing on the Internet are virtues , the Wiccan Rede, values etc. and I want them to be part of the outer community . I thought I would start with this because it’s pretty foundational for any religion and they are different types of pagans . If they want it I said I would make a blog for their writing so they can really join in the pagan discussions . Also it might help people to see that pagans in prison are actual human beings , it might make them more willing to help . Anyway I just wanted you to know that. I thought it was great for a lot of reasons and the main one being you show how it all unfolds and why they are your personal values – with most of them coming from Christianity it could be hard to get them to understand paganism requires critical thinking skills , questioning end personal accountability when it comes to values – especially because Christianity works with morals . What you wrote touches on all of that too. So thank you for writing!

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    • I’m honored that you would think to include some of my thoughts in this project of yours. Are you referring to the post I wrote for the Pagan Values Event last year, by chance? If so, then I’m doubly honored, as I didn’t realize very many people had actually read that post :-) I would be very interested in seeing how my post fits in with your overall, finished project (if you would be willing to e-mail a .pdf my way?). I agree with your assessment, that Pagans in prison are humans just like anyone else. My own thoughts regarding the current prison systems of the world are probably a conversation best saved for another time (and its own blog post); but if something I have written here can be used to positively alter the lives of people who have been put in prison, or are otherwise in need of a positive redirection in their lives, then everything I’ve put into this blog is more than worth it.

      I would also welcome the chance to read the writings of Pagans in prison – theirs are perspectives that don’t make it into the mainstream … as often as I’ve encountered Pagans discussing all the challenges they’ve had to go through just to openly declare and practice their faith, I can imagine this topic alone from the perspectives of people who are incarcerated might be highly enlightening, as well as profoundly moving. I think the blog is a great idea, and I hope you will find all the contributors you need to make it happen!

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