Monday, May 26, 2008

Big Ol' Jet Airliner

On Coverville, Brian occasionally has "Originalville" episodes featuring original songs eclipsed by a more famous cover. It goes without saying that as a cover lover I'm equally fascinated with cover origins. Whether it's hearing for the first time Hard to Handle and Respect (both Otis Redding originals), Gloria Jones' Tainted Love, or Joni Mitchell's Woodstock, it's great fun unearthing originals of songs you thought were originals, plus you get to be a jerk know-it-all around your friends. Today's post and all this week I will hopefully enlighten you with some original tunes.

Paul Pena - Jet Airliner
Several years ago there were a bunch of us coming back from a ski trip in the Rockies and Steve Miller Band's Jet Airliner was playing on a mixtape. A casual acquaintance who was riding in the back seat with me asked us the ol' "Did you know?"... and no, I did not know Jet Airliner was a cover song. Written and recorded in 1973 for Paul Pena's second album New Train, the album actually remained unreleased for 27 years due to label conflicts until 2000. Steve Miller heard the unreleased album (Steve Miller Band keyboardist Ben Sidran produced it) and decided to cover Jet Airliner on the 1977 album Book of Dreams. That car ride was also the first time I learned of Tuvan throat-singing, which Pena had taught himself to do and was subsequently invited to participate in a throat-singing symposium in Tuva, his journey being the subject of the 1999 Oscar-nominated documentary Genghis Blues.

Steve Miller Band - Take the Joker and Run [Demo]
The 30th anniversary re-issue of the Steve Miller Band's hit album Fly Like an Eagle contains this peculiar demo, which is Take the Money and Run sung to the tune of The Joker.

By the way, I added my profile's "now playing" to the sidebar. I only signed up about a couple months ago and I don't really get it other than it's an easy way to post what I'm listening to, which I tried to do manually a couple years ago. Sometimes you might catch a sneak peek at a future post I'm working on.

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