Aug 272020

Here’s a topic I have been thinking about for years, but that may never have made it to the Main Stage. I guess I’ve been thinking about this since Rock Town Hall first fizzled away.

KISS‘ “Hard Luck Woman” is such an obvious pastiche of mid-’70s Rod Stewart that it’s a wonder that Rod never covered it. (Or has he?) Some of you may recall how much I personally despise KISS, but I have to give it to them: they were rock solid as Rod Stewart imitators.

What’s the first thing anyone of my generation thought when first hearing the Stealer’s Wheel song “Stuck in the Middle With You”?

New Dylan tune? Cool!

Bob’s a proud man, but he’s got a devilish sense of humor. How has he gone all these years without covering that song? (Or has he?)

And here’s the tune that has most had me thinking about this topic for the last few years: David Bowie‘s “Diamond Dogs.” Maybe it was 5 years ago when it came on and I thought to myself, That is the greatest song the Exile-era Stones never recorded!

Can you hear it as a swaggering Stones song, with Jagger sashaying and laying into the word “brooch” the way Bowie so expertly does*; Mick Taylor and Keef doing their thing; E Pluribus Gergely‘s favorite saxophonist, Bobby Keys, honking away? Ever since that day the thought occurred to me, that’s all I can hear. Well, that and the way Bowie sings brooch. And the cool This ain’t rock ‘n roll; this is genocide intro.

So here’s my assignment:

Starting with the 3 songs I’ve noted (and dispute those nominations if you must), what would make the greatest collection of covers of pastiche songs by the original artists being imitated? Imagine, a revitalized, coke-and-brandy fueled Rod the Mod singing “Hard Luck Woman.” Bob Dylan and his most crack modern-day band rambling through “Stuck in the Middle With You.” The Rolling Fucking Stones coming back for just one more album and world tour, featuring their version of “Diamond Dogs.” Hell, the Stones promise 2000 Man a seat on the tour bus!

*Brooch is probably my favorite word in the English language, or at least a close second to penultimate, on the basis of the way Bowie pronounces it in “Diamond Dogs.” Somehow, Bowie made it sound dirty!

Apr 142020

I am a big fan of Wesley Stace (the artist formerly known as John Wesley Harding) and I have had a few occasions to speak with him over the years after shows at the merch table (captive audience). When he put out his last LP, featuring the “Minneapolian Sound of The Jayhawks,” I was in heaven. My favorite band, The Jayhawks, with one of my songwriting heroes. We had an (possibly imagined) moment after a Squeeze show in Atlanta (he opened) while discussing how we both loved The Jayhawks.

I saw him play a month ago: back when there were concerts! (At Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta – birthplace of Indigo Girls and John Mayer) and we traded a few FB messages (ok, he responded to my messages) about mandolin and songs he chose to play for this particular pre-shutdown show. So basically we are best friends now.

So this week some of his Facebook fans created an “imaginary tribute LP” and posted which artists they wanted and what song they should perform (The Cure should do “Goth Girl,” for example). Many were deceased (Johnny Cash), others were never going to say yes (Billy Joel will never record “My Least Favorite Things”). Some were serious, some were to be clever (Jacob Dylan playing “Making Love To Bob Dylan”).

My suggestion was to have The Jayhawks record “Kiss Me Miss Liberty” from John Wesley Harding’s New Deal (1996?). Wes “liked” it and it became part of the “imaginary” track line up.

Then a funny thing happened, Wes started to reach out to the artists and they started agreeing to record the songs that the “fans” wanted them to play!

Graham Parker started the ball rolling last week with his cover of “The Devil In Me” and I began to construct the Jayhawks arrangement of “Kiss Me Miss Liberty” in my head as a cure for my captivity boredom.

So today I see a message from Wes to me (ok to the group) that Gary Louris (of The Jayhawks) is the next artist to record a Wes song, thanks to Eric Leland (well, after I reminded him that it was my idea).

So I am basically a record executive again! COVID19 dreams do come true!

Apr 092020

One thing I’ve been trying to do while working from home, isolated in a spare bedroom that now serves as my office, is to be more patient and open in my listening habits. I listen to albums I play in the background all the way through – no needle lifting! I have been listening to lots of artists I normally don’t listen to, including albums released past 1983. I’ve been listening to genres of music I normally don’t make much time for, especially classical music. My wife walked in on me listening to a Mahler symphony the other day and exclaimed, “I never thought I’d walk in on you listening to classical music,” as if I’d been watching bestiality videos…

May 072014


In the recent, bizarre Twins thread, MrHuman mentioned that Bruce Springsteen has an original song called “Tomorrow Never Knows” that is NOT a cover of the Beatles’ song by that name. What really stuck in my mind, however, was MrHuman’s belief that The Boss has never done a Beatles cover. That’s hard to believe (didn’t he sing “Imagine” the night Lennon was killed?), but I’ll take him at his word, especially because it got me thinking about what Beatles song I could imagine Springsteen covering, and how much I would be likely be irked by that cover.

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