The other night I saw Chance the Rapper live at the Sunshine Theatre. In the middle of this amazing show, a familiar sound of pulsing organs started creeping through, punctuated with Chance’s surprisingly acrobatic crooning. As the song developed, the crowd slowly realized it was a beautifully minimal cover of Coldplay’s “Fix You” (if you’re interested, a video of him performing this at another show can be found here). The moment was a highlight of the show, and it inspired me to compile this playlist juxtaposing some of my favorite original/cover combinations.
I’ve always had a soft-spot for covers, even going so far as to regularly purchase artist tribute albums throughout middle school. I was (am) a weird person. Still, I think there’s something beautiful about one artist drawing inspiration and interpretation from another’s source material. It’s a unique blend of style, originality, and familiarity. Sometimes the end result doesn’t stray far from the original artist’s intent while at others the similarities can sound almost honorary at best. Genres can be transcended and old classics can take on incredible new relevance and meaning through this reimagining. Taken by Trees’ stab at “Sweet Child O’ Mine” turns the Guns ‘N Roses original into an introspective, introverted lullaby. Brad Mehldau isolates a hauntingly simple melody from Sufjan Stevens’ “Holland” and crafts it into an awesome example of trio dynamic and interplay. Occasionally, the swap from a female to male singer (or vice-versa) can help completely turn a song on its head – cases in point: the shift from Feist to James Blake in “Limit to Your Love” and Grizzly Bear’s hypnotizing reinterpretation of The Crystals’ “He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss).”
The cover is the ultimate love letter. It simultaneously pays homage to the past while embracing a new future. Consider it an ode of appreciation from one artist to another. Consider this playlist an ode of appreciation to the concept of covers, itself.
Feist – The Limit to Your Love
James Blake – Limit to Your Love
Guns ‘n Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine
Taken by Trees – Sweet Child O’ Mine
The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army
Ben L’Oncle Soul – Seven Nation Army
Aerosmith – I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing
Pomplamoose – I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing
Pixies – Where is My Mind?
Trampled By Turtles – Where is My Mind
Bonnie Raitt – I Can’t Make You Love Me
Bon Iver – I Can’t Make You Love Me/Nick of Time
The Crystals – He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)
Grizzly Bear – He Hit Me
Sufjan Stevens – Holland
Brad Mehldau – Holland