I must blame Greg Burgas. Cover songs again? I wrote about them in 2019. But I forgot that I had ALSO done a post back in 2013 as well as one in 2021 that I did as a response to a meme.
But Greg wrote: “My Question of the Week is a pretty easy one, I think: What’s your favorite cover song?” EASY? Is he out of his mind? (Don’t answer that.)
ALSO, my friend Mary is currently studying cover songs. She tells me that Steven Van Zandt, he of the E Street Band, discussed in his biography what makes a great cover. He said it differs from the original by having a different tempo, different arrangement, different or slightly different genre, is sung by someone of a different gender from the original, and/or a different style.
In any case, I’m going to list MORE cover versions. I believe I haven’t written about them in my previous cover posts, though I may have noted them in pieces about a particular artist.
Oh, yeah, there is something called a re-cover, in which the artist covers their previous recording. One of my favorites is You Don’t Own Me by Lesley Gore. Here’s the original and the remake.
Seven Separate Fools
I think that Three Dog Night was one of the best cover bands ever. Mark Evanier wrote about them recently.
I had not seen Deborah in decades because she lives in Europe.
The envelope was in a box of unsorted miscellany, rather than in the mail drawer. I discovered it about a month after the May 2 date on the letter. It came from MetLife.
“RE: Case Number…
“DEAR ROGER GREEN:
“We are trying to locate ROGER GREEN regarding an important insurance matter. They last resided at [my address in 1999-2000].
“If you know ROGER GREEN…” Do I! Calling the 800 number, I was told I would get some form to fill out.
Three weeks later, the Identification Questionnaire letter came. Section I was easy enough, Insured’s Information.
But Section II was nigh unto impossible. “Insured’s address when policy was issued.” I didn’t know THAT the policy was issued. “Date”? Dunno. “Name of agent who issued the policy” – seriously?
I ASSUME this was some sort of policy that was arranged by my parents at some point, though they never told me about it. Back in the 1990s, I started receiving these minuscule dividend checks every quarter from MetLife. $2.64 or $2.97 or $3.18, which I thought was a function I set up from something I must have set up.
In any case, I spoke to a different customer service representative. HE told me that I shouldn’t have needed to fill this form out, since I had an account with them. Long story short, I received a check for about $4,400 in early August.
It’s not life-changing money, but it’s life-made-easier money. We had one laptop among three of us; now we have two. And when it’s lacking software protection I assumed incorrectly that would be included, I acquired it.
I took a trip for work to Washington, DC, and the credit card bill came due before the reimbursement check arrived; not a problem. My trip to Yankee Stadium was affordable. I purchased tickets for an upcoming concert.
Most spontaneously, I could take a train to Poughkeepsie one morning to see my friend Deborah. I had not seen her in decades because she lives in Europe. She drove 90 minutes from Connecticut. We share hot drinks and a muffin at the nearby coffee shop for a couple of hours. Then I took the train back so I could go to work in the afternoon.
To be sure, some of these – the Yankees game and seeing Deborah, for sure – I would have done WITHOUT the extra cash.
BTW, the JT reference is to Suite for 20 G. From Songfacts: “This song was an amalgamation of several bits of songs/melodies/lyrics/themes that Taylor had laying around as kernels for three future songs that hadn’t yet come together. He and his producer, Peter Asher, had a deadline to meet for completing the Sweet Baby James album, and they needed one more song to do it. Asher had him string these loose themes together to make a single ‘Suite’ and get the $20,000 (20G) they were promised by Warner Bros. Records for completing the album, which is how it got the title.”
James Taylor explained how the late Gerry Goffin, would go there to get away from the family troubles
I have seen James Taylor perform live exactly once, at the anti-nukes rally in NYC in 1982. Strange since he’s performed several times at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center at little north of here, and especially at Tanglewood in extreme western Massachusetts.
Those of us of a certain age all owned the album Sweet Baby James in college, required along with Carole King’s Tapestry. I have almost all of James Taylor’s albums, the ones in the 1990s and later on CD, including his Christmas album, the earlier ones on vinyl. I need to listen to the last two, aside from the Covers album.
Traffic Jam (JT) – I think it’s a hoot That’s Why I’m Here (TWIH) Home by Another Way (Never Die Young, 1988) – reference to the Three Wise Guys who visited thje baby Jesus Sweet Baby James (Sweet Baby James, 1970) – the song is not about himself but about meeting his nephew James, the son of his older brother Alex, for the first time
Carolina in My Mind (James Taylor, 1968) – recorded back in his Apple Records days, then re-recorded for the first greatest hits album Lo and Behold (Sweet Baby James) – interesting theology Up on the Roof (Flag, 1979) – I gained a new appreciation of this song when James Taylor, at some program honoring Carole King, explained how her writing partner, the late Gerry Goffin, would go there to get away from the family troubles Shed a Little Light (New Moon Shine) – namechecks ML King, Jr.
Mexico (Gorilla) – I probably heard this first on one of those Warner Brothers Loss Leaders Mockingbird (Carly Simon: Hotcakes, 1974) – Taylor and Simon were married from 1972 to 1983 Handy Man (JT) – my appreciation soared when I heard how different this was from the Jimmy Jones original That Lonesome Road (Dad Loves His Work) – sad songs say so much
Something in the Way She Moves (James Taylor)- Taylor seems cool with the fact that George Harrison pilfered the title as the first line for his biggest hit in the Beatles, Something; this is the WB re-cover Fire and Rain (Sweet Baby James) – the quintessential JT Shower the People (In the Pocket, 1976) – the bass harmony vocal is perfectly in my range, and I cannot help but to sing along with it Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow (Carole King: Tapestry, 1971)
James Taylor: “I had no concept of where I might be next week, never mind 16 years into the next century.”
As I’ve noted often in this space, I watch the Kennedy Center Honors every year. It’s like a well-oiled machine, with the event taking place in early December (this year Sunday, December 4), then edited down for broadcast in a two-hour slot on CBS-TV the week between Christmas and New Year’s (this time, Tuesday, December 27. 9-11 p.m. EST).
The host of CBS’ Late Show, Stephen Colbert, will return to emcee the Kennedy Center Honors 2016; this is his third consecutive year. This year’s honorees are Al Pacino, Martha Argerich, Mavis Staples, and James Taylor and the Eagles. Generally, the President and First Lady sit in the box seats with the honorees, while others sing, dance, or speak in tribute to the honorees.
“‘But I don’t understand, because I think I haven’t done much in America.'”
“Not much, that is, apart from appearing with most of the country’s leading orchestras: the Boston Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic… Argerich always plays with other people now; she never enjoyed the loneliness of appearing solo on a concert stage, and around 1981 simply decided not to do it anymore… She strides out on stage like someone in a tremendous hurry and plunges right into the music, often leaping up as soon as she has finished.”
“Having grown up in the confines of Chapel Hill, NC in the 1950’s, I found myself, at the age of 18, on my own in Greenwich Village in the mid-60’s. It was a time of great change, many dangers and near complete freedom, purchased at the cost of any sense of a secure future. I had no concept of where I might be next week, never mind 16 years into the next century. So the prospect of attending the Kennedy Center Honors again, but this time as an honoree, is astonishing. I am deeply moved to be included in such august company and hugely grateful to the Kennedy Center Honors for the gift of this great award.”
Al Pacino – I have actually seen him in relatively few films. The Godfather (1972), Serpico (1973), …and justice for all. (1979), Sea of Love (1989), Scent of a Woman (1992) – which I did not much like, The Insider (1999), Danny Collins (2015)
Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
If I made one, it was to do less. I failed miserably, except when I had to because of the hernia operation, which felt really good, actually.
Did anyone close to you give birth?
Not that I recall.
Did you attend any weddings?
Affirmative: Ron and David, just a couple of weeks ago.
Did anyone close to you die?
Well, yes, three people in the first six weeks of the year. Jimmy Rocco, who was in my church choir, and Bonnie Deschane, who cleaned our house for a while, and Robert Yates, my mom’s first cousin, who was closer in age to me than her. I think it made the winter far more difficult. And the average of 12F in February, cf the normal of 19F, didn’t help.
What countries did you visit?
None and I would like to change that someday.
What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
Not finding someone to whom I could delegate a specific task.
What was the best thing you bought?
Marvel Masterworks book of The Defenders comic book, written by Steve Gerber.
Whose behavior merited celebration?
Anyone who acts with caring and compassion in the midst of fear and paranoia.
Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
And speaking of fear and paranoia, let’s just put it this way: I’m more distressed by the political supporters of a particular political candidate than I am with the candidate.
Where did most of your money go?
The house, specifically the bathroom renovation.
What did you get really excited about?
Learning new stuff, often through this here blog.
Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?
I have to admit, sadder.
Thinner or fatter?
Yo-yo much of the year.
Richer or poorer?
Richer, marginally. We had pledged a chunk of money for our church’s elevator, and that is paid off.
What do you wish you’d done more of?
What do you wish you’d done less of?
I’d like to say “watching the news”, but I don’t want to be beholden to false narratives, so I watch more, from various sources.
How did you spend Christmas?
Christmas Eve means singing at church, so that. Eventually, we go to the in-laws.
Did you fall in love in 2015?
How many one-night stands?
Jaquandor: “Now, that’s not the kind of question a gentleman answers! (Another stock answer!)”
What was your favorite TV program?
The Good Wife, CBS Sunday Morning, JEOPARDY!
Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Hate hurts the hater. Now, intense dislike, I have a few.
What was the best book you read?
The Heart of Christianity by Marcus J. Borg. This will require a review, eventually. But kudos to Jaquandor for Stardancer.
What was your greatest musical discovery?
I blame someone from church, who put two Bruno Mars songs on a mixed CD, one of which was Uptown Funk. But more important, and on the same mix, is the song Glory, from the movie Selma. The more I listen to it, the more I appreciate it. Some lyrics:
The biggest weapon is to stay peaceful We sing, our music is the cuts that we bleed through Somewhere in the dream, we had an epiphany Now we right the wrongs in history No one can win the war individually It takes the wisdom of the elders and young people’s energy Welcome to the story we call victory Comin’ of the Lord, my eyes have seen the glory What did you want and get?
Out of Corporate (frickin’) Woods, and working downtown.
What did you want and not get?
An office with a door, which was bitterly disappointing beyond belief.
What were your favorite films of this year?
Selma; Love & Mercy; Inside Out.
What did you do on your birthday?
I thought I would have written about this, but I can’t find it. I had my annual hearts game with friends Broome, Mary, and Orchid. Lifelong friend Karen came up because of work that evening, regaling us with stories about Johnny Cash, Paul McCartney, and elevators.
How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
See these stories. This is about five minutes longer than what I care about in terms of fashion.
What kept you sane?
My dads’ group in church.
Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, George Takei.
What political issue stirred you the most?
Congress couldn’t even limit guns to those on terror watch lists, because FREEDOM, which epitomizes my despair that ANYTHING will happen to make guns less available to people who ought not to have them.
Who did you miss?
Who was the best new person you met?
Our acting presbyter, and a young woman at a church dinner.
Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015:
And recognize that there are ties between us, All men and women living on the Earth. Ties of hope and love, Sister and brotherhood, That we are bound together In our desire to see the world Become a place in which our children Can grow free and strong. We are bound together by the task That stands before us And the road that lies ahead. We are bound and we are bound.