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Between The Covers

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Tristan Prettyman Covers Barry Louis Polisar’s “All I Want Is You” Leave it to a children’s book author to come up with a simple yet catchy tune that will be stuck in your head for hours after you first hear the lyrics, which are childishly charming despite the allusions to floral reproduction: “If I was a flower growing wild and free/All I'd want is you to be my sweet honey bee.” Barry Louis Polisar’s memorable melody might be why acoustic singer-songwriter Tristan Prettyman covered his 1977 song - and why you might recognize the original from the intro to Jason Reitman's 2007 film “Juno.” Polisar’s cute and quirky lyrics are treated to Prettyman’s, well, pretty vocals that weave in and out of acoustic guitar and lyrics that don’t bend to the gender of their new singer: “All I want is you, will you be my bride/Take me by the hand and stand by my side.”

Meaghan Smith Covers Pixies’ “Here Comes Your Man” This smoothed-out, slowed-down version of “Here Comes Your Man” leaves the alt-rock edge of the late 80s behind, but keeps one of its electronic instruments – the Omnichord. The chiming timbre and kitsch appeal of the instrument is embodied well in one of the more playful and upbeat covers of a song about winos and hobos traveling on trains. Canadian indie pop songstress Meaghan Smith’s charismatic vocals and charm are brought to life in the accompanying lighthearted video, where she rides a bike in the sun while being chased by a boy (supposedly “her man”?). The Zooey Deschanel magnetism of the song fits perfectly in the movie soundtrack it was on, (500) Days of Summer.

Peter Gabriel Covers Vampire Weekend’s “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” The original song’s tropical frills and tribal beats made it an easy target for Peter Gabriel to cover – that, and the fact that the song’s lyrics mention him by name (“But this feels so unnatural / Peter Gabriel too”). When asked to do a cover of the song, Gabriel replaced one of the lines with "And it feels so unnatural to sing your own name" to rectify the situation. Gabriel’s animated voice is a funny yet fitting addition to the Hot Chip instrumental, as the cover combines music new and old.

The String Quartet Tribute to Peter Gabriel Available now at iTunes and Amazon

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Top 10 Songs By New Artists that Should Be Covered By Older Artists

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While the common practice is for new artists to cover old ones, I find it much more interesting when it’s the other way around. In fact, there are a lot of old crooners that are doing contemporary cover albums lately, look at Johnny Cash’s last few records before he died. Here’s a list of some crazy matchups that could be amazing.

10. Stars’ “Look Up” covered by Joni Mitchell

Joni’s sultry voice is a good fit for this Amy Millan led song off Stars’ album Heart. Hell, anything Joni sings is good enough for me, really.

9. LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” covered by Earth, Wind, and Fire

This song is an intense dance anthem that gets more insane by the verse. Imagine if this group funked the hell out of it? That pounding piano track with some brass and some booty shaking? Yes please…

8. Radiohead’s “Bodysnatchers” covered by Prince

When Thom Yorke’s falsetto comes in near the end, when it gets really into swing, that’s when Prince would step in with some sexiness. He’d probably add like a 10 minute solo to the end of this. If he did one hell of a job with “Creep” why not this song?

7. Arcade Fire’s “Intervention” covered by Stevie Wonder

This song works well with the organ of course, but what about some clavinet? Stevie can sing anything with some intensity, and this bible-based reflection would be a good fit for his touch.

6. The Decemberists’ “On the Bus Mall” covered by Paul Simon

Paul Simon liked to tell stories, just like the Decemberists’ Colin Meloy, though Paul’s were somewhat contemporary. Colin prefers pirates and powdered wigs. Still, this gentle song would be a good place for Paul’s poetic musings.

5. Wilco’s “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” covered by Tom Waits

Part of the magic of this track originally is Jeff Tweedy’s rough sounding voice, it’s like he just cried for 3 hours and then came in to record. Such a feeling could be duplicated ten fold with Tom Waits stepping in.

4. Hot Chip’s “Boy From School” covered by Sly and the Family Stone

If someone could coax Sly out of his hole long enough to play some music, this Hot Chip standout could get serious funk under it. Hot Chip with a live drummer always gets the heads shaking, as proven each time they steal LCD Soundsystem’s drummer for a show.

3. Iron and Wine’s “Sodom, South Georgia” covered by James Taylor

This song has such an old feel to it that you’d swear it was a cover already. James Taylor could give this song is personal touch by pretty much playing it straight, it already feels like he could have wrote it.

2. Dirty Projectors’ “Stillness is the Move” covered by Aretha Franklin

The Amber Coffman led standout from Bitte Orca already feels like an old R&B classic. Let Aretha get up there and show you how it’s done, Amber. Don’t worry, she’ll kill it.

1. Bon Iver’s “Re: Stacks” by Bob Dylan

While Dylan’s voice isn’t quite as quality as days gone by, the closer to Bon Iver’s beautiful For Emma, Forever Ago is made for Dylan. It’s sparse, but very rhythmic and lyrically driven. The best part is that Dylan would make it a new song altogether, adding his own brand of genius to the already solid track.

Honorable Mentions Anything by Grizzly Bear covered by The Beach Boys Jenny Lewis’ “Rise Up With Fists” covered by Loretta Lynn My Morning Jacket’s “Librarian” covered by Fleetwood Mac Ida Maria’s “Oh my God” covered by The Violent Femmes

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