3:1: Christmas Eve Eve

 

by Valerie

This week, I’m pulling from the archives of my Christmas Mix CD collection to share 3 originals and a cover for Christmas Eve Eve.

3 Originals:

 Kevin Devine– Splitting Up Christmas

“I know the world’s almost over, but you make it seem better and I hope for you I do the same”

Belle and Sebastian– Are You Coming Over for Christmas?

“…me and you singing a carol on the tough side of town”

Jimmy Eat World– 12.23.95

“Merry Christmas, Baby.” 

and a cover:

Pedro the Lion– I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. 1863 poem “Christmas Bells” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It was set to music in 1872 and has been over and over again since.

“And wild and sweet, the words repeat
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men”

 

Merry Merry Christmas, Static and Distortion readers and listeners!

xo

 

 

 

 

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3:1: Christmas Double Feature

by Valerie

After a week hiatus (sorry everyone!) 3:1 is back with a double feature to make up for lost time.

Folks, we are in the middle of the most cover song filled time of the year and the people in your life can probably can easily be divided into 3 groups: the people who hate Christmas music, the people who are indifferent to it, and the addicts who just can’t seem to get enough.

Growing up, my mother would play A Very Special Christmas volume 1 and volume 2 on rotation every day of December. She would always quickly skip Vanessa Williams‘ “What Child is This?” on volume 2, but play John Mellencamp‘s “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” from volume 1 on repeat at least 3 or 4 times in a row. The repeat button on CD players was designed for her, I’m convinced. Those compilations will always feel like home.

For me, Christmas is very much about being home and being with the people you love, reflecting on the year and appreciating the people you have been missing. Perhaps missing for a very long time. My favorite songs this time of the year follow that theme.

So today, let’s look at 6 Christmas covers and 2 originals. All worth throwing on your playlist this season and maybe, just maybe worth repeating.

6 covers:

Death Cab for Cutie‘s heartbreaking take on “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” originally sung by Darlene Love (composed by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)

Jon and Valerie Guerra mash-up Bing Crosby‘s classics “The Way You Look Tonight” (also made famous by Fred Astaire) and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”

The Eagles famous take on “Please Come Home for Christmas” by blues singer and pianist Charles Brown.

A Fine Frenzy’s take on the country classic “Blue Christmas” made famous by Elvis Presley.

Dikembe changes up “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey and composer Walter Afanasieff.

Florence + the Machine plays “Last Christmas” by Wham! live

 

and 2 originals:

Slow Club “Christmas TV”

Jack’s Mannequin “The Lights and the Buzz”

 

Join us next week for more Christmas tunes, before we return to our regular 3:1 programming!

 

 

 

3:1: Be My Baby

by Valerie

Bum-ba-bum-BOOM.

This week, 3:1 visits what is arguably one of the best songs of all time: “Be My Baby,” written by  Phil Spector, Jeff Barry, and Ellie Greenwich and originally performed by The Ronettes in 1963. You may know it from the from the iconic opening credits of Dirty Dancing or Mean Streets, the sampling in Eddie Money‘s “Take Me Home Tonight,” or any of the many times it’s been used and covered over the years. It’s a staple of rock and roll history.

The original’s bold, full sound (known as Phil Spector’s signature “The Wall of Sound” styling) and powerful, beautiful vocals (which include backup by a young Cher), make it a difficult recording for anyone to beat, but I imagine it’s an irresistibly fun song to tackle as a cover.

3 covers: 

First, an emo/punk rock rendition from Bayside, found on their 2012 EP, Covers Volume #1. It’s an unexpected take that works surprising well.

Next, the posthumously released version by John Lennon, recorded in 1973 for the Rock ‘N’ Roll sessions with Phil Spector. It can be found on the John Lennon Anthology from 1998. There’s something really haunting about its slow pace and pleading vocals. How it didn’t make it on to the album baffles me.

 

Perhaps the most interesting cover in terms of background story comes from The Beach Boys in 1980. Brian Wilson has been interviewed many times over the years about his obsession with the song. It’s a fantastic tribute.

“I felt like I wanted to try to do something as good as that song and I never did,” Wilson said in a NY Time article titled Still Tingling Spines, 50 Years Later, “I’ve stopped trying…It’s the greatest record ever produced. No one will ever top that one.” Perhaps all these covers can ever hope to be are worthy tributes to the classic.

and the original, in all it’s timeless glory. Even if you’ve heard it a million times, give it a close listen and imagine a time when no one had heard anything quite like it:

 

3:1 The National / Thanksgiving

by Valerie

Welcome to the second installment of 3:1. Remember last week when I said the only rule was the ratio of covers to originals? Well, this week we’ll be looking at 3 covers and 1 original again, only focusing on a band instead of a song.

Over the weekend, I was reminded that one of my favorite bands, The National, did a very silly (yet hauntingly serious) cover of “Thanksgiving Song” from the TV Show Bob’s Burgers several years ago. What I didn’t know was that a year later, they collaborated with the show and did an original song for Thanksgiving called “Sailors in Your Mouth.” Too funny. So ridiculous.

Better late than never, right?

Here’s the cover (accompanied by random photos of the band… it was the only one on YouTube without weird photos of dead turkeys. You’re welcome.):

And here’s the original song they wrote for an episode of the show:

This got me thinking about an awesome cover I’d heard recently of The National‘s song “Pink Rabbits” from the 2013 album Trouble Will Find Me. It’s by the band Strand of Oaks and while it’s not about Thanksgiving, your ears may thank you:

I also remembered a much less silly and much more beautiful cover The National recorded as a b-side for I Need My Girl, “Learning” by Perfume Genius. I adore it.

I’ve been told The National later wrote a Christmas song for Bob’s Burgers (How did all of this get past me?!), but that’s going to have to wait to be heard until after Thanksgiving is over. I’m a one-holiday-at-a-time kind of person.

Have a great Thanksgiving, readers & listeners! I hope it’s filled with great food and even better company, with opportunity to reflect on what matters most. I bet you’ll be looking at your gravy boat differently. I know I will.

3:1 : Lovesong

By Valerie

Welcome to 3:1.

After spending the month of October sharing and critiquing each other’s selection of cover songs and realizing there are so many conversation-worthy covers, we decided to keep the discussion going and introduce 3:1 – a weekly installment on the blog where I’ll share a ratio of 3:1 of covers to originals. Some weeks will feature 3 covers and an original, some will feature 3 originals and cover. Some weeks may feature the same artist, some the same song, and some weeks may be a variety with a theme. The only rule is the 3:1 ratio.

Unlike our October series, these covers may or may not be better than the original. In fact, several of the songs I’ll be sharing in the first few weeks were on my list of songs that didn’t quite make the cut in October because while they were great, the original was just too darn good. 

To kick things off, let’s look at The Cure‘s “Lovesong” from the 1989 album Disintegration.

3 Covers:

Adele from 21, 2011.

 

Kevin Devine from Devinyl Splits No. 3: Tigers Jaw x Kevin Devine, 2015.

 

The Brains from The Cover Up- EP, 2014.

The Original:

 

I think these covers each stand out in different ways and are all quite good, but none quite top the original in my mind. Let us know what you think!

When available, I’ll be adding the covers featured each week to my 3:1 playlist on Spotify:

 

Covers Project: Valerie

Each week on Tuesday in October, we have been releasing a list of 10 cover songs that are arguably “better than the original” from each of our staff members on the blog and podcast network. Let us know if you agree with our selections!

Here is my list and very first contribution to the blog! Woo! Narrowing down to 10 songs was difficult, because I really had to stop and ask myself what makes a cover “better” than the original to me? 

Firestarter, Jimmy Eat World covering Prodigy

My favorite band covering a song I find completely insufferable in its original form. Listen to the whole 6 minutes; it doesn’t disappoint.

XO, John Mayer covering Beyoncé

Love JM’s somewhat unexpected take on what I consider to be Queen B’s best song. The harmonica really makes it.

Stay (I Missed You), New Found Glory covering Lisa Loeb

My favorite of NFG’s tracks on From the Screen to Your Stereo II, the second of their two cover albums of songs from motion pictures. Lisa Loeb does join in for the vocals, but I decided it still qualifies as a cover. I couldn’t remember what 90’s movie the original was from, but I love this pop-punk take on it.

The First Cut is the Deepest, Rod Stewart covering P.P. Arnold and/or Cat Stevens…depending who you ask?

One of my favorite “wait, that’s a cover? No way!” songs. Rod Stewart’s version > Sheryl Crow’s and certainly better than the original. No contest.

The Only One, Kevin Devine covering Manchester Orchestra

A great track from a split EP where KD covers MO and vice versa. You may have heard my first appearance on the podcast where I gush about Kevin Devine. He’s got so many great covers, but this is is one I can truly say tops the original.

Heroes, Janelle Manoé covering David Bowie

Typically covers of classics for commercials don’t match up to their originals at all, but this version absolutely rocks. Thank you, Pepsi.

Close to Me, The Get Up Kids covering The Cure

Speaking of people covering Bowie, The Get Up Kids cover “Suffragette City” on the same album as this Cure cover. There’s nostalgia to this one, admittedly. I love the original but there’s just something about this version and Matt Pryor’s voice that I just adore. This spot on the list was almost taken by Dinosaur Jr.’s version of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven”, which is equally excellent, but the original of that one is just too good.

Stay, Thirty Seconds to Mars covering Rihanna

This song really shows off Jared Leto’s voice in ways I don’t believe Thirty Seconds to Mars other songs have, based on what I have heard. This version feels incredibly personal, while Rihanna’s version kind of loses me when Mikky Ekko’s vocals come in.

Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis, Neko Case covering Tom Waits

What can I say other than “whoa”? A surprisingly chilling take on this kind of kookie song. Not the best fit for a Christmas Party jam mix, but it absolutely belongs on this list.

Valerie, Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson covering The Zutons

Mostly because I just had to include it. When people meet me, they occasionally sing a line or two from this (or other “Valerie” songs) and then it’s stuck in my head all afternoon. Amy turned this so-so original into something truly memorable. I love the story that Mark Ronson asked Amy what indie song she might want to cover with him for his album and she chose it because it was a song they played all the time at a local pub she went to and she sung it in the shower.

I like to imagine that most awesome covers are born out of shower- solos and neverending earworms.