Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Kinda like the Michael Moore of the music world.

  • Petra Haden & Bill Frisell "I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)" (Stevie Wonder cover)
    I've been meaning to post some Petra since Fluxblog posted about her unreleased acappella version of The Who Sell Out. (!!!) I had a brief obsession with that dog. in my early twenties and loved me some Rentals shortly thereafter. I love that sweet-voiced girl twee crap. You know, songs that remind you of breaking up with your teenage boyfriend at summer camp and then going out with your best friend to wallow in self pity over a chocolate sundae? Or songs whose lyrical basis is seeing a cute guy at a show? That kinda shit.

    I'm not sure if Petra's jazz connections (her dad's Charlie Haden, you know) were at all involved in the Frisell collaboration, and quite sadly, I'm too lazy even to do a quick Google search to find out, so look into that on your own if you want to know. Heh. Sorry.

    Anyhow, their Petra Haden & Bill Frisell album is available as a Canadian import and is chock-full of sweet little covers of very diverse songs like the Foo Fighters' "Floaty," Tom Waits' "I Don't Wanna Grow Up," Coldplay's "Yellow" and songwriter Henry Mancini's "Moon River," among others. Check it out.

    Oh, and this Stevie Wonder song, while very pretty and uplifting, always reminds me of working music retail when the soundtrack to High Fidelity was released and hearing it constantly and wondering why everyone seemed to love that movie (or book, even) so damned much. And that it was filmed in Chicago only annoyed me more. I swear to God, I was walking in Wicker Park one day last year and overheard some yuppie girl excitedly tell her out-of-town friend, "High Fidelity was filmed right around here. You could be walking where JOHN CUSACK WALKED!!!" and go on to giggle maniacally as I looked on, cynically nonplused.

  • Marianne Faithfull "What Have They Done to the Rain?" (Malvina Reynolds cover)
    This folk staple has been covered by Joan Baez and Melanie and The Searchers and The Seekers (Searches and Seekers? '60s folk combos were really hunting for truth and solutions to the world's ills, weren't they?) and probably many others. Most importantly to me, though, is that the Lili Taylor character in Dogfight sings a very tentative rendition to the lovable asshole as played by River Phoenix, thus inspiring me to hunt out every version I could find, original or otherwise. And because I caught a Marianne Faithfull concert last night on Trio, it's her version I chose to share with you today. And, yes, almost all of my decisions are based on things I see on TV.

  • The Ataris "A New England (Live)" (Billy Bragg cover)
    Speaking of TV ruling my decisions, in the most recent episode of The Surreal Life (which lives up to its name more this season than ever), former American Idol wannabe Ryan Starr whines about singing a pop single penned by Jordan Knight because it's not the kind of music she's into, and if it gets played on the radio (shah, right!) her fans (?????) will think she's "selling out." Um. Did her publicist not inform her that she's the lowest rent "celebrity" on The Surreal Life and that being a part of this show is, indeed, a greater form of selling out than singing some crappy song? Apparently so. Aaaaaanyhoooooo, while our fair Ryan is crying and pleading her case (and eventually totally giving in, by the way), she happens to be wearing an Ataris shirt. And that reminded me that I had this live acoustic cover of Billy Bragg's fantastic song, which—for a version by your standard pop-punk act that only knows three to five chords—isn't really half bad. Much better than their god-awful cover of "Boys of Summer," by far. "A Black Flag sticker on a Cadillac"? Whatever you say, kids.

  • Dr. Ammondt "Quate, Crepa, Rota (Shake, Rattle, and Roll)" (Big Joe Turner/Bill Haley/Whoever cover)
    To help cope with his divorce in the late '80s, Dr. Jukka Ammondt, a 50-something Finnish ethnomusicologist, decided start recording Finnish tangos. Who knew such a thing existed? Subsequently, he paired his love of '50s rock 'n' roll with his love of dead languages, bringing us a Latin Elvis tribute as well as Rocking in Latin, from whence this track comes. His most recent effort features three songs sung in Sumerian. Ah, academia!

    On his site, he acknowledges:

    Despite that my singing career is at the same time an intellectual joke, I have also a serious message to the people: "Don't stop, find always new ways to break the borders- your own and the others." I think that's the most important thing in the creativity.

    Damn. Just when I wanted to kinda mock him, he acknowledges his "intellectual joke" and gets all positive and inspirational on me. This album cover is still fair game though, yes?

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