The Trouble with Covers


So I was listening to what I think is a pretty good cover of The Eurhythmics’ “Here Comes the Rain Again,” and it hit me:

Original recordings of songs are usually about whatever the song’s actually about. The emotion of the song is usually the artist’s focus.

Cover songs are very often about paying homage to a song the artist loves, and about doing justice to the original, as in Joss Stone’s “Here Comes the Rain Again.”

Other times, they’re about giving a new singer a quick hit by having them do a poppy, gritless version of a respected, fierce song. It often succeds in the short term, but I can only think of one case where the singer actually had any type of career afterward:

The original,  for comparison:

Here’s one of the many who didn’t: 

The original for comparison: 

Of course there is one other kind of cover, a kind that’s amusing our clever at first but just gets shockingly smug after a few listens:  ironic covers.

I’m not talking Richard Cheese parodies, but smug white indies singing rap and r&b:

Postmodern Jukebox makes probably the least obnoxious and most interesting of this type of cover. I think it’s because they explore and preserve historical musical styles, and because they keep the racial smugness out.

They still all seem to lack the emotion and sincerity of the originals, though.

Ok, for those of you who’ve made it this far, I’ll leave you with the greatest cover of all time, when the greatest pop punk metal self proclaimed martial aets master ever crossed genres to cover Wyclef Jean’s part of his duet wit Shakira. It was truly magical, as you can plainly see:

Meat Free Monday: Office Christmas Parties


One good thing about the potluck nature of office parties (Christmas, birthday, Thanksgiving, or whatever) is that I can always be sure to bring something that I can eat: bagels with peanut butter, chips and salsa, or even vegan chilli. 

A small irony is that I almost always also bring something I won’t eat, whether it’s cream chese for the bagels or queso for the chips, or non-vegan candy as a happy for the student workers. 

Oh well…nobody’s perfect.

Avalon Peacock


I hadn’t thought about Avalon Peacock or Can You Duet? (a short-lived American Idol wannabe from CMT) in years. 

But something reminded me of her name Thursday, and a few clicks later I was listening to her tracks on Youtube, wondering why she isn’t as famous as Allison Krauss or Miranda Lambert.

I mean,  listen to this!

Some of her recent solo work is available on Soundcloud

I think it’s better than her duets. It is far less country, for what that’s worth. She sounds a bit like Kate Bush meetsMazzy Star, in my opinion. 

Well, I know what I’ll be listening to for the next few days. 

Meat Free Monday: Vegan Thanksgiving Dressing After-Report

Fruit salad, baked acorn squash, sweet potatoes … These are great, but where is the dressing?

Right here. I made it this year, and while it’s not as good as Mom’s, it still hit the spot.

I used Chef Mom’s recipe, and it was good. She likes her sage and black pepper, though. I fixed this twice, and I’m still working on balacing the spices.

But before I could make vegan cornbread dressing, I  had to make vegan cornbread. 

I used Food52’s vegan cornbread recipe, which uses apple cider vinegar and baking soda instead of eggs. It felt like a grease school science project,  and it tasted …

… well, I haven’t loved this much since my grandmother passed. 

To make a long story short, I successfully navigated “Turkey Day” in vegan mode with no real problems.

And for me,  that is something to be thankful for. 

In Honor of Fungi Peter Shilton: Sauteed Mushroom Sandwiches

Twenty years ago, I spent the summer studying in London. One of my favorite places to eat was an affordable little Italian cafe called Mona Lisa. 

And my favorite sandwich there by far ease Fungi Peter Shilton, sauteed mushrooms on white bread with swiss cheese.

Last night I remembered this sandwich, and as the late great Jerry Clower would say, “had a craving flung upon me.”

So I tried to recreate the experience with items I had on hand: 

  • canned mushrooms 
  • bottled garlic cloves
  • Smart Balance vegan margarine
  • Sarah Lee Artisano bread
  • a skillet.

I’m sure it would have been better with fresher ingredients, but it was delicious even out of the can.

  1. I drained 1 can of mushrooms and put them in a small skillet, along with three cloves of garlic and two good pats of margarine
  2. Then I cooked it all on high heat until the consistency of the mushrooms changed
  3. I had to add more margarine along the way
  4. When the mushrooms were almost done, I started toasting the bread.
  5. When the toast was done, I  “buttered” it, too.

This made two thick and juicy, hot and toast sandwiches. I  will definitely make this again.