02 October 2010

thirteen

Fridays at school the kids go home early, right after lunch.  And most weeks, after the kids leave, we're given a few solid hours to collaborate with our coworkers and make plans and grade papers.  It's great.  Except for the grading.  I'm not a big fan of grading papers...

While I work on planning and grading I usually fire up Songbird and use it to listen to the new slate of songs posted on my very favorite music website, Cover Lay Down.

Songbird is a multi-platform web-browser built on the same code as Firefox.  But, what's cool and different about Songbird is how it lists all the songs embedded on any given website in a neat little file-index window below the browser window.  All ya gotta do is press the play button to listen to all the music on the site.  I think Songbird's a pretty neat deal.

The blog Cover Lay Down, as the name implies, features mostly cover-songs.  In their own words:
"At Cover Lay Down, we believe that familiarity breeds contentment — that is, that coversongs create an especially powerful comfort zone for fans to discover new artists and composers. As such, all songs included herein are ultimately shared for the purpose of introducing you to new and previously-unappreciated musicians, that you might follow the threads to those artists’ original works, and in doing so, become part of the base of support which allows musicianship to continue to be a fruitful way to make a living, and allows the creation of new music itself to be subsidized."
I think that's a great policy.  And, thanks to Cover Lay Down, I have encountered a bunch of great new folksy artists and composers.  Plus, I'm fascinated by cover songs... the new ways in which a familiar song can be recreated and take on the unique nuances of an artist's voice and musicianship while still maintaining much of its original melodic and lyrical structure.

Some time ago Cover Lay Down featured a cover of one of my favorite songs, Thirteen, by the '70s band Big Star (whose co-founder Alex Chilton died this past March, by the way).  I'm sure you know it.  It's a great song that's probably been covered a gagillion times.  But, this particular cover of Thirteen was done by two artists I was only marginally familiar with: Beth Orton and Sam Amidon.  They do it as a lovely, kinda jangly, down-tempo acoustic duet.  It's nice.  And it got me to thinking about other covers of the same song that I've enjoyed over the years.  So I browsed on over to The Hype Machine and searched around.

BTW: Thanks to this blog, Cover Lay Down, and a few others for having a very similar opinion of this song to my own, and for posting many of these covers online, saving me the trouble (and perhaps the liability, too).

Finally, this live version, by my favorite band of all time, Travis, is pretty darn great, too!



Last of all, as a bonus, here's Travis again, this time doing a different and really surprisingly great live cover... of Britney Spears' Baby One More Time.

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