About thirty seconds after I officially published the first “Kick-Ass Covers” edition of Mixtape Friday, T texted me with, “Dude, you’ve definitely gotta do a part two,” and proceeded to remind me of all the songs that I’d declared to her in an all-knowing exclamation of glee to be “an excellent cover!” over the past few years, and yet hadn’t appeared on my “essential” list. (There is one band, in particular, that I myself am shamefaced to have overlooked because, what the fuck, anyone who knows me knows how pivotal they are to my musical palette…but we’ll get to that later.) And then about thirty seconds after that text, I came up with the following list (which took all of three minutes because she, of course, had been right) and bided my time, waiting for the perfect Friday to share it with you all. WHICH IS RIGHT NOW! WHAT UP!
1. “Hey Hey, My My” – Battleme
The original hard-rock, uptempo version of this song (called “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)”), along with its complimentary, acoustic counterpart, “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)” appeared as the last and first tracks, respectively, of Neil Young’s 1979 album, Rust Never Sleeps. It’s a brilliant, haunting, and evocative meditation on Young’s part regarding imminent changes in the world of music (particularly the rise of Punk) and what that would mean for his place and influence in it. Young plays with the song’s lyrical and musical arrangement in both tracks, and while Battleme covers only one of these, it manages to pay homage to both the lyrics in one, and the style and melodic intent in the other. (Another interesting fact: The line, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away” is now infamous, as it was quoted by the late Kurt Cobain in his suicide note.)
Original versions (in order), by Neil Young
2. “Come Together” – Aerosmith
Covering the Beatles is a task very much like rewriting The Grapes of Wrath: It’s already perfect, why the fuck would you fuck with it, and also, YOU ARE DOOMED TO FAIL. Which is originally what I thought about this cover before hearing it. Say what you will (because I know I’m going to have a lot of sayers to the contrary on this subject [and maybe I kind of invite that – as I said, I do have a thing for chaos]), but I think Aerosmith does bring a certain new flavor and bravado to John Lennon’s classic. On the subject of Lennon’s vocals vs Steven Tyler’s however, I’m sure we’re in agreement – Lennon wins, every time, though I dare say it’s a close race with this one.
Original, by the Beatles
3. “Maybellene” – Social Distortion
T and I adore the fuck out of Chuck Berry. (She has this thing about taking a road trip to the south to [eat lots of chicken and] see him perform live before she dies.) And I adore Mike Ness for adoring Chuck Berry. (He also idolizes Johnny Cash [almost as much as I do], so yeah, Mike Ness is pretty much cool as hell in my book.) Here, he does an excellent job of bringing what I hail as one of the first rock ‘n’ roll songs, into punk-rock relevancy.
Original, by Chuck Berry
4. “I Only Wanna Be With You” – Volbeat
And what Mike Ness does for “Maybellene” and punk rock, Volbeat does for this song and metal. I’m sure I’ve already raved about vocalist Michael Poulsen’s natural ability to combine rockabilly, rock, punk, and heavy metal aesthetics into a single, alarmingly harmonious effect, so for the sake of not repeating myself (even though I kind of just did – see what I did there?), I’ll only say that he absolutely delivers in this cover. (And that his voice is pretty fuckin’ dreamy.)
Original, written by Mike Hawker and Ivor Raymonde, performed by Dusty Springfield
5. “Heartbeats” – José González
This is one of them rare occasions where I actually prefer the cover over the original. It’s nothing against The Knife, in all honesty. It’s just that I’m a lyrics girl: for me, it’s the words – and then a solid combination of everything else really supporting and reaffirming those words – that make the song. When I first heard the original, it elicited no emotional response from me. And then I heard this beautiful cover, and it hit all the right notes – pun and cliche totally intended. The original merely just obscured the true intent and impact of the words for me, and José González lifted that veil.
Original, by The Knife
6. Project 1950 (album) – The Misfits
And now we’ve reached the band – and album – that, in my complete stupidity, I failed to mention the first time. The Misfits are, without a doubt, one of the bands that not only produced in me a lasting impression, but are also one of the bands that have proved truly formative to my musical taste and choices. Simply put, I fuckin’ love these guys, and back when I could still take myself seriously in pink mesh tops, they were with me every combat-booted step of the way, seeing me through my tough times and then laughing with me about it later (mesh tops, Jayne? Really?). I know some fans consider it blasphemous to adore this album because of the glaring absence of the incomparable Glenn Danzig (I’m totes still loyal to you, Glenn!), but I have to be real: Jerry Only does a hell of a job covering some of my favorite rock ‘n’ roll classics. Here’s one of the stand-outs for me (and not just because it soundtracks one of my favorite scenes in The Sandlot):
This Magic Moment
Original, composed by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, performed by Ben E. King and The Drifters
Did I miss something? Have a suggestion for a future Mixtape Friday topic? Drop us a line, leave us a comment, or tweet @theladybromance and let me know!
Till next Friday,
Turn it up to 11!