Friday, April 25, 2008


Bruce Springsteen, Glory Days, 1993

Bill Simmons linked to this video a few weeks ago, but god damn, it deserves to be linked again. Bruce goes on David Letterman's last NBC show and just rips shit up with Paul Shaffer's band. This was in 1993, also known as Springsteen's dark ages, so this performance was at least a sign that the Boss could at least still bring it live, if not in the recording studio.

Young @ Heart, Fix You

Young @ Heart are a chorus of old people who sing covers of popular modern songs. That's basically as apt a summation as there can be. A documentary about the group is hitting theatres in the next few months, so be prepared to watch as they're turned into a novelty act on every late-night show in the land. It'll be sort of like when those guys from Standing In The Shadows Of Motown were heavily promoted for three months when the documentary was out and then they faded back into obscurity. Every song that Young @ Heart sings is basically turned into a reflection on life and the inevitability of death, which I guess is part of the joke, but I'd like to see a cover of the Hip's Inevitability of Death. That would make my Irony-Meter explode. Also, Chris Martin --- this is your future.

James Blunt, In A Little While

My favorite item about James Blunt used to be the fact that my pal Dave consistently referred to him as 'Jim Blunt,' like he was a buddy of ours or something. "Yeah, saw Jim Blunt the other day, he's working at a garage now." But now that he has turned in a creditable cover of a massively underrated U2 song, Blunt has a point in my book. In A Little While may end up being one of those songs that will end up being covered by a hundred people until 20 years from now people will be like, "Wow, that's a U2 song?" It'll be like U2's answer to With A Little Help From My Friends. For an even better cover, check out the version performed in 2006 by the Split Infinitives (a.k.a. my friend Aron on guitar and me on vocals). It will be on our first album, Can I Borrow A Feeling. BTW, I have no idea what this Torchwood show is that the actual video images are from. Show about an arsonist?

Talking Heads, Burning Down the House, 1983

On record, this is just a goofy 80's oddity. Live, it's one of the great songs of all time.* Once again folks, Stop Making Sense. Best concert film of all time. I haven't seen the Last Waltz or Scorsese's new documentary about the Stones, but do they have David Byrne and Alex Weir running in place? Hell no.

* = ok, maybe not of all time. Let's not go nuts.

Petra Haden and the Sellouts, Don't Stop Believing, 2007

There were two people in the world who were satisfied by the Sopranos finale. One was David "No, I'm Not Pretentious At All, Why Do You Ask?" Chase. The other was Steve Perry, since Don't Stop Believing suddenly became a big hit again after over two decades. It was already a karaoke night staple and, after Petra Haden got ahold of it, a choral hit as well.

U2, The Electric Co., 1982

I love watching old U2 live performances. It seems like a completely different band. They all have mullets, they're all still shaky on their instruments, Bono is doing crazy stuff like running around and climbing up the lighting equipment just to fire up the crowd, etc. Here's why music is funny --- if you were at this show in 1982, would you think that in 26 years this band would be mentioned in the same breath as the Beatles and the Stones as one of the great rock bands of all time?

Jenny Owen Youngs, Hot In Herre

All you really need to be an internet music sensation is one half-decent original tune and one tongue-in-cheek cover. In this case, Jenny Owen Youngs takes Nelly and turns into into a Jann Arden song. It also seems to morph into Oasis about two-third of the way into it. Gawky white people covering rap songs is right up there with root beer, Frasier and Dodger Stadium as things that never fail to entertain.

Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello, The Ghost of Tom Joad

Double-shot of the Boss this time in a tribute to Danny Federici, the longtime E Street Band keyboardist who passed away of cancer last week. This version of Tom Joad is from within the last month, as Morello popped up for a couple of shows to join Bruce on this tune. Again, 1990 to about 1998 was a down period for Springsteen. I find the Ghost of Tom Joad album to be near-unlistenable. I can respect what Bruce was trying to do,, that album just didn't work. There's a reason why, whenever one of the tracks from the album are played live now, it's a totally different arrangement with the full band and, like, a melody. Morello actually keeps the guitar acrobatics to a minimum here, aside from one solo. Morello always reminded me of a ballplayer who tries to catch the ball in his hat rather than his glove --- like, just take it down a notch, man.

1 comment:

RT Murphy said...

That Petra Hayden cover is one of the best, eh? I've been trying to find that album it's on (Guilt By Association) online but with no luck...

As for Young @ Heart, what can I say, their cover of 'I Wanna Be Sedated' strikes me as better, if only for hitting way higher on the Irony-meter.