May 10, 2007

Under the covers with the Counting Crows

It’s been raining covers and rarities on the Counting Crows‘ MySpace page lately, and right now they’ve got up 4 great studio tracks from their so-called “Under The Covers” sessions. Their distinctive touch on each of these songs is thoroughly enjoyable, even on the Rod Stewart/Faces ditty (a man who, in general, I cannot abide, due to flagrant violations such as these).

Adam Duritz fills us in:

To celebrate what a great week we had in the studio, I decided this was going to be Covers Week on our Myspace page, so all the songs will be from the unreleased “Under The Covers” we recorded by ourselves one weekend during the “Hard Candy” sessions when Lilywhite was out of town.

We got “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”, a Bob Dylan song from the Basement Tapes sessions. It was also recorded by the Byrds on the album “Sweetheart Of The Rodeo” album. I have no idea what the hell this song is about. It’s one of those Dylan songs where the lyric is so good that it doesn’t even matter that none of the words seem to make any sense at all. Fucking nonsense as far as I can tell but somehow it still makes total sense to me. We got the fucker in one tape, as you will hear me clearly state at the end of the song. You try and pull that shit off.

Next up is “Ooh La La” by The Faces from the album of the same name. The Faces of course featured Rod Stewart on lead vocals, Ron Wood (later of The Rolling Stones on guitar), Kenny Jones (later the drummer for The Who) on the kit, Ronnie Lane on bass, and Ian McLagan on piano (also a member of the Stones, albeit an unofficial one). “Ooh La La” was one of the rare songs written and sung by Ronnie Lane. If It seems familiar, it may be because it is the song that closes the film “Rushmore”.

On our version, Rod Stewart was unavailable so I sang the vocals but the rest of the instrument are still played by the The Faces……or are they? We were having a lot of fun recording this track. You can tell because I just don’t seem to want to end the damn song. The body of the song is only 2:40 but the last chorus goes on for almost another two full minutes because I simply refuse to stop and keep calling for everyone to go around another time.

We had the same problem ending “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere”. I may have been a little hammered by this time. It’s only fitting, after all. When The Faces released their big box set a couple years ago, they (rather fittingly) called it “Five Guys Walk Into A Bar… “.

Then we have “Start Again”, maybe my favorite song by one of my favorite bands, the wonderful Scottish band Teenage Fanclub. It’s cut from their album, my favorite of theirs, “Songs From Northern Britain”. We decided to cut it with lots of harmonies and acoustic guitars as if it was a Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young song. It’s probably my favorite track on “Under The Covers”. Me and Dan just sing the shit out of it and when Immy adds the high harmony, the song just soars. Plus this song features my one and only piano solo on record.

Lastly, but certainly not least, is our version of the great Jackson C Frank tune “Blues Run The Game”. This one is just me and Immy. Jackson Frank was a friend and peer of Paul Simon, Nick Drake, Sandy Denny (of Fairport Convention), and Richard Thompson. Legend has it they all shared a flat together in London in the very early 60′s. When Simon left to return to America and formed Simon and Garfunkel, they recorded “Blues Run The Game” for one of their 1st albums. It turned out great but for some reason didn’t make the cut and was left off the album. It turned up years later on a Simon and Garfunkel box set called “Bookends”, which is where I first heard it. Immy and I have played it many times in concert but I don’t think we’ve ever again captured the pure emotional magic of the first perfect performance.

Nothing on “Under The Covers” overdubbed or comped together. All these songs were recorded live and this is exactly how they sounded. We recorded live and we recorded fast. I think we did 14 songs in 2 days.

Dig it cats, these are the songs we love. Hope you love ‘em too.

You Ain’t Going Nowhere (Dylan cover) – Counting Crows

Ooh La La (Faces cover) – Counting Crows

Blues Run The Game (Jackson Frank cover) – Counting Crows

Start Again (Teenage Fanclub cover) – Counting Crows

My PS – I think I prefer the breathless purity-of-the-moment with this live version of Blues Run The Game, even though I can’t complain on the good studio version:

Blues Run The Game (live) – Counting Crows

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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