Sep 1 2023

David Byrne Presents: Covered Up

By Todomundo

Song Artist Purchase
Girls Talk Tegan and Sara
Alone Again, Naturally Vulfmon, Monica Martin & Hailey Niswanger
Trilhos Urbanos (Incidental Retirantes) Xande de Pilares
Come As You Are Caetano Veloso
I Don't Remember David Byrne
Fast Car Luke Combs
Black Boys on Mopeds The Nields
Rhinestone Cowboy (Film Version) Bruce Springsteen
Words of Love The Beatles
Godspeed James Blake
The King of Carrot Flowers. Pt. 1 Death Cab for Cutie
Fake Plastic Trees Holly Humberstone
Dancing in the Dark The Harmaleighs
Muito Romântico Xande de Pilares
Respect Aretha Franklin
Wrecking Ball Scars On 45
Under Pressure Karen O & Willie Nelson
Strangers Lucius
Valerie (feat. Amy Winehouse) Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse
Slippery People The Staple Singers
Life On Mars? Seu Jorge
Nothing Compares 2 U Sinéad O'Connor
Superstar Sonic Youth
A Case of You Prince
Jolene The White Stripes
(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman Aretha Franklin
La Vie En Rose Grace Jones

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Talking Heads first song that really got played on the radio was “Take Me To The River” - a cover of an Al Green and Teeny Hodges song that we used to do live. People liked Psycho Killer, but it was Take Me To The River off our 2nd album that really got some serious airplay (in those days radio was the way most people heard your music). We loved the song- it’s a curious (from our POV) mixture of gospel references (baptism) and secular love, with possibly even underage issues too. We did other covers too - a Troggs song… a 1910 Fruitgum Co song… always in the context of a live set. Which was fun!

I had mixed feelings about this being our single. I obviously was pleased that we were getting played on the radio, but I felt like the record company choosing a cover was kind of a tired typical move… In their view pushing a version of a known song might increase the odds of it being accepted (and they might have been right about that). But, it also risked us becoming known not for our own material… We had plenty of our own songs to choose from, so why not pick one of those?

Little did we know at the time, our version was not the only cover of that song out there that year - Bryan Ferry and Foghat both had covers of that song out that same year (adding to the confusion). Maybe it was indeed a bad choice after all. But in retrospect, ours seemed the most different from the original and I believe it got the most airplay. And also in retrospect, it did seem to open some doors that eventually allowed our own music to get played on the radio as well.

Some of the songs on this playlist are like our cover - the versions are fairly different from the originals, and that helped break the artists who covered the songs. Aretha doing Respect (originally an otis redding song), or Sinead doing Nothing Compares To You. Most of the covers I would like to think were not done out of some scheme to get radio play but out of genuine love for someone else's song. Often a cover is a way of revealing a part of yourself that you feel uncomfortable showing in your own material - Tegan and Sara doing Girls Talk or Brandi Carlile doing Black Hole Sun. It can reveal what you’re listening to, which might be a surprise to your fans - Caetano doing Come As You Are, Death Cab For Cutie doing Waterfalls. And it can be a tribute, a thank you, to a songwriter who has been a big influence.

Some familiar versions and some surprises here I hope!

-David Byrne

Sep 1 2023

David Byrne Presents: Covered Up

By Todomundo

Song Artist Purchase
Girls Talk Tegan and Sara
Alone Again, Naturally Vulfmon, Monica Martin & Hailey Niswanger
Trilhos Urbanos (Incidental Retirantes) Xande de Pilares
Come As You Are Caetano Veloso
I Don't Remember David Byrne
Fast Car Luke Combs
Black Boys on Mopeds The Nields
Rhinestone Cowboy (Film Version) Bruce Springsteen
Words of Love The Beatles
Godspeed James Blake
The King of Carrot Flowers. Pt. 1 Death Cab for Cutie
Fake Plastic Trees Holly Humberstone
Dancing in the Dark The Harmaleighs
Muito Romântico Xande de Pilares
Respect Aretha Franklin
Wrecking Ball Scars On 45
Under Pressure Karen O & Willie Nelson
Strangers Lucius
Valerie (feat. Amy Winehouse) Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse
Slippery People The Staple Singers
Life On Mars? Seu Jorge
Nothing Compares 2 U Sinéad O'Connor
Superstar Sonic Youth
A Case of You Prince
Jolene The White Stripes
(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman Aretha Franklin
La Vie En Rose Grace Jones

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