I’ve been thinking about dream covers ever since this post, in which I requested that Joshua get a band together and start doing filthy funk interpretations of saccharine James Taylor jams. I stand by the fact that “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” could be downright dirty, if given the appropriate timing and musical accoutrements.
Until that cover gets made (oh please? someone? I can’t really sing, but I’ll play the hell out of a triangle if it means making this cover happen), here are five more dream covers. Leave yours in the comments!
“Birdhouse in Your Soul,” by They Might be Giants, covered by Alison Krauss and Emmylou Harris
Only the honeyed voices of Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss will do when it comes to a reimagining of “Flood.” Picture the quiet loveliness of Emmylou’s voice on “Road Movie to Berlin” or Krauss crooning “Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love.” And what sweet magic would they lend to quirky classics like “Whistling in the Dark” and “Particle Man”? Ralph Stanley could sit in on “They Might Be Giants,” and I want Lucinda Williams in the studio getting rowdy on “Twisting.” “Birdhouse in Your Soul” would be stripped down to just short of a capella, their voices paired with a lone fiddle, and a banjo making brief, rapidly plucked cameos.
“Radio,” by Lana Del Rey, covered by Andrew Luttrell and Rosie Thomas
Lana Del Rey got caught in a mean spirited game of SEO one upmanship several months ago. Music bloggers battled it out to see who could make her sound the most like a harbinger of the apocalypse. This SNL skit really sums up my feelings on this.
Del Rey is no Carol King, but she makes decent, sometimes interesting pop music and I don’t think she’s a sign of the end times for humanity or modern music (and if you think that, you haven’t been paying attention to pop music. You have so many other things to be horrified about) “Radio” is one of those sometimes interesting songs. The lyrics and tune are kind of fun, and the whole song could be more interesting if it was divided into a duet and outfitted with different singers.
The duet concept? A couple is tested by the newfound musical fame of one partner. They banter and flirt, but the whole dialogue is edged in genuine worry that all this radio fame will have an impact on the relationship.
A: Now my life is sweet like cinnamon/ Like a fucking dream I’m living in/Baby love me cause I’m playing on the radio/How do you like me now?
B: Pick me up and take me like a vitamin/ Cause my body’s sweet like sugar venom oh yeah
A: Baby love me cause I’m playing on the radio
B: How do you like me now?
The singers: Andrew Luttrell, who has the guitar chops and straightforward, slightly gruff delivery one half of this duet requires. His musical sparring partner is Rosie Thomas, who sounds like honey and rosewater and is adept at revealing layered, complicated forms of sadness through her voice.
“She’s Got You,” by Patsy Cline, covered by Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill and Patsy Cline share an aptness for keeping slow, slightly mournful numbers entertaining. They also don’t require much in the way of backup: A stripped down Lauryn Hill track is riveting, and Patsy Cline’s voice fills and carries each song. When I think about Hill covering this song, I can hear her cover of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” or her song “Selah.” I know this would be equally haunting and beautiful. Much like my “Allison Krauss and Emmylou Harris Take on They Might Be Giants” scheme, I would be a happy girl if I found a whole album of Patsy Cline covers by Lauryn Hill (Although I would be a happy girl if I found a whole album of just about anything by Lauryn Hill.)
“Marionette,” by the 5 Chinese Brothers, covered by Warren Haynes
I became so obsessed with this cover idea about six or seven years ago that I briefly considered pitching it in a letter to Warren Haynes. I had Let’s Kill Saturday Night on heavy repeat around the time I saw Warren Haynes do a solo show in Philadelphia. It was one of the best shows I’d ever seen. Warren was charming, the acoustics were insane, and his versions of well known songs made you feel like you hadn’t known those songs very well after all. I rarely walk out of a show starry eyed and thoroughly pleased, ready to pledge allegiance and endless fan-ship to the artist. This was one of those shows.
I heard “Marionette” for probably the 100th time a few days later and could hear how Warren Haynes voice would sound on it. He would amplify the sadness and anger. He would lend some gravel voiced magic to it. “Marionette” is already great, and his version could be sublime.
“You’ve Got Her in Your Pocket,” by The White Stripes, covered by Mavis Staples
More Mavis Staples, guys. The world needs more Mavis Staples. Her album with Jeff Tweedy was great. Her 2011 version of “The Weight” with Wilco and Nick Lowe haunts my dreams. “You’ve Got Her in Your Pocket” would sound amazing with her voice, and could be such a different song without Jack White’s high pitched musical stylings. Ideal situation: Jack White produces the cover, maybe even plays guitar on the track. They strike up a friendship and make an album together. And we get a great cover, another great album, and most importantly, more Mavis Staples.