Friday, October 26, 2007

Covered In Folk: The Beatles, Part 1
"More popular than Jesus"




Is there really anything left to say about the Beatles? Given the covercontext, perhaps only this:

The Beatles canon is etched indelibly on the popular psyche. On one level, these are all folk songs, if only by their memetic virtue. Sooner or later they are played on every busker's corner. And every one of us smiles and sings, faintly, under our breath as they pass by.

And one reason the songbook sticks so well in the brainpan is how simple, how elegant, how open the pages are to interpretation. Chords, lyric, tone and timbre, their mutability in the hands of even a single genre is astounding.

I have almost as many folk covers of Beatles songs as I do covers of Dylan songs. Most are excellent. Today, I'll be using our first of what promises to be a very fruitful Covered In Folk series on the Fab Four to introduce a few deserving folksingers and coversources we just plain hadn't heard from yet. For some reason, today's songs all begin with the letter I.

  • Sam Phillips, I Wanna Be Your Man
  • Alison Krauss, I Will
  • The Paperboys, I've Just Seen A Face
  • Allison Crowe, In My Life
  • Nellie McKay, If I Needed Someone


That last cut, at least, is from This Bird Has Flown: A 40th Anniversary Tribute to the Beatles' Rubber Soul. You need this record; happily, the folks who made it want to sell it to you.

The Sam Phillips cover is from a recent all-covers soundtrack to Crossing Jordan; the soundtrack is so amazing, it almost makes me wish we had television in my house. You'll be hearing more of this disk here over the next few years, but get it now, because CD Universe has it for under 8 bucks!

Now That I've Found You, a collection of Alison Krauss covers and B-sides, is available direct from the Rounder Records label; it's a great CD to start with if you don't own any of her work.

Songwriter and mistress of coversongs Allison Crowe beat out Johnny Cash, Ben Lee, Chantal Kreviazuk and Shawn Colvin covers of In My Life at the last minute. Buy or download all Crowe's albums via Rubenesque - her own label - and you'll know why this Canadian youngster is one to watch for the next half-century.

The Paperboys bring in da Canadian Celtic folk-rock via CD Baby so you can bring it on home. They do a great All Along The Watchtower, too.


Today's bonus coversong beginning with I:

  • Keb' Mo' covers Lennon's Imagine

19 comments:

Shaw Israel Izikson said...

can you find a cover of my FAAAVORITE Beatles song:

You Know My Name - look up the number

?

boyhowdy said...

Not at the moment, I'm afraid...but thanks for stopping by, Shaw -- I'll keep an eye open for it, just for you.

Adrian said...

You kind and warm words of appreciation for Allison Crowe are heartening (to this fellow fan who serves as manager to Allison). She's just returned to her Canadian home from concerts in Scotland. At the John Lennon Northern Lights Festival in Durness last month, Allison performed In My Life for an audience that included members of John's family. That magic came together thanks to the internet. Thanks for sharing your musical loves, carrying forward the folk tradition via this global, web, version of the campfire.

Rollerpimp said...

Nice collection! Can't wait to see the rest.

boyhowdy said...

Adrian: Glad you liked the write-up, and thanks for the tour update. Please pass word on to Allison that a) she deserves every bit of it, and b) so far, the number of people who have gone from here to learn more about her (or buy/listen to more of her work) may be small, but it's still a new record for this blog for any artist!

Also, thanks for taking the time to stop by; so wonderful to have some reassurance from an "official" source that artists and management appreciate our work as bloggers in promoting and touting the artists we love.

And rollerpimp: thanks for the nice comments, and wow, nice blog yerself!

Folks, if you made it this far, I recommend following up on both Adrian's tourblog for Allison and Rollerpimp's music blog for downloads of what appears to be decent-sounding Christian music (and I thought there was no such thing -- shows how much we all still have to learn!)

Adrian said...

Aye, I surely shall pass along your words to Allison - and I'll send her your URL.

We both consider blogs, podcasts+ - all on the web - essential to what we do. When Allison made the conscious decision, in 2003, to start her own label - following the path of Ani DiFranco and Loreena McKennitt - it was unclear how she'd be able to connect with her audience, especially beyond our home territory in Canada.

Now we know ( :

This online community inspires and supports Alley in her choices and freedom, and we draw our tour maps with help from people coming together from all over this planet!

The revolution IS now. And, we're seeing how the net is nurturing the folk tradition, enabling people to share music that is not processed and filtered by the corporate "machine".

Woody Guthrie would dig it ( :

Thanks again! Ad

Andy said...

I love love LOVE Beatles covers. Thank you for informing me of a few more good ones.

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