I'm a sucker for a good cover song. You know what I'm talking about - when a singer or a band utterly makes a song their own, in the process allowing you to hear the song in a completely new way. The Folksmen doing the Stones' "Start Me Up," Michael Andrews' version of "Mad World" by Tears for Fears, and The White Stripes doing a heartbreaking version of Dolly Parton's equally heartbreaking "Jolene" are just a few examples. I have no patience for so-called cover songs that do nothing but replicate the original.
I was excited, then, to hear two excellent covers right in a row, courtesy of NPR's Song of the Day. (If you're not already a fan of NPR's online musical offerings, check out their site right away. Daily song selections, weekly All Songs Considered podcasts, frequent live concert podcasts, and generous "first-listens" of new albums, not to mention my best friend-to be Carrie Brownstein's Monitor Mix blog, will keep you happily swimming in good music.) The Hotrats doing "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)" is a Beatles-esque melodic revelation, while Bonerama's "When the Levee Breaks" gives this blues (and rock) classic a New Orleans brass band treatment, which rings all the more poignant post-Hurricane Katrina.
While we're on the subject, what are your favorite covers?