311 did it so much better.

April 7, 2011 § 2 Comments


I was talking with someone at work (Libby? Or maybe it was with Colleen at Ikea) about covers and why a band would cover a song if they didn’t change any of it. If it ain’t broke, why fix it I guess. Our conversation didn’t progress much further than that, but it got me thinking about some of my favorite covers and why I like them. Sometimes, a cover is so good it totally blows the original out of the water–sorry, Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley might not have been able to swim (too soon?) but he totally kicked your ass on that one. Others seem so ubiquitous that they completely overtake the original until no one is sure who did it first; I think “Such Great Heights” was Iron & Wine’s song, but honestly I still don’t know. Rarely, a totally shitty band gets a little cred by making a pretty sweet cover, as is the case of “Bitches Ain’t Shit.” I don’t like Ben Folds–sorry, every person who ever graduated from Niskayuna High School (I don’t really like you guys, either.)

Anyways, these are some of my favorites. A lot of them have bizarro fan-made Youtube videos attached so, hooray.

José González–Teardrop

His cover of “Heartbeats” is also great, but I prefer his slightly creepy version of this Massive Attack song. I also have no idea what the fuck is up with this video, but it’s kind of sweet.

Elliott Smith–Supersonic

As I like to say, Blur is why Oasis sucks. But, this cover almost makes me want to go back and maybe listen to “Definitely, Maybe.” Maybe. Anyways, when he finishes Elliott says he expected boos, but how can you not like this cover? There’s no reason to get pissed off.  (Ryan Adams also puts Oasis to shame with his “Wonderwall” cover.)

The Flaming Lips–I Just Can’t Get You Out of My Head

Wayne Coyne and crew pull off a few great covers; I also love their version of Beck’s “Golden Age.” But this one wins for sheer comedy. Nice costumes, guys.

Tim Kinsella–A Picture Postcard

We’ve talked about how I feel about the Kinsellas. This cover adds a certain pathos that I find Promise Ring’s original lacks. Hell, I’ll never get on that bus now. Thanks, Tim.

The White Stripes–Jolene

I appreciate that Jack White sticks with the original lyrics instead of trying to regender it. (Jo-ey, Jo-eyyy?)  Anyways, Dolly Parton was pretty bitchin’ way back when, so I don’t know who this Jolene thinks she is.

Ben Folds–Bitches Ain’ Shit

I’ve mentioned I don’t like Ben Folds, right? However, this cover is pretty amazing; Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg should be proud. In high school, my friend printed out the lyrics to this song and then her grandma found them. Hahahaha.

The Fugees–Killing Me Softly

I had a few more, but I fear this is getting long. I also have to take a shower. So, I end here with the cover to end all covers. Sing me out, Wyclef.




P.S. Holy shit guys, I just saw on the weather that it’s going to be 80 on Monday. 80. I don’t know whether I want to cry tears of joy (shorts! sandals! skirts! sunburn!) or fear for my life (heat stroke inside the Bear Park!)



§ 2 Responses to 311 did it so much better.

  • M says:

    Yay! You know this has been on my mind with the mix CDs and all. I also don’t like Ben Folds, so go us. Love the Fugees cover and always have, almost as much as the original. My additions:

    Ted Leo – Since U Been Gone/Maps (awesome mash-up, and his falsetto is so bad it’s good)

    Naked Eyes – Always Something There to Remind Me (this one overtakes the original by Dionne Warwick such that nobody knows it’s a cover)

    Johnny Cash – Hurt (freaking amazing while stripping nothing from Nine Inch Nails)

    Alien Ant Farm – Smooth Criminal (sorry, guilty pleasure)

    M, who is torn between joy at the onslaught of spring and concern for her pores and lungs as they once again face the sauna of doom.

  • J. says:

    Dang! That Johnny Cash cover is so good, I’m almost embarrassed I forgot it. Good call on the others, too. I dug that Alien Ant Farm video. Funny monkey! Harhar.

    Just think of all the money we’ll be rolling in when we discover all the lung-destroying mold growth that’s supported by all that sticky heat. Deep fry paradise. Deep fry paradise. Deep fry paradise. None of us wanted to live that long anyways, right?

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