It's the end of the year, the end of the decade. So far, I've resisted the temptation to add to the plethora of decade-end lists, which isn't to say that it won't happen... but for now, four versions of The Greenhornes' There is an End, followed by a grab bag of random links to recent things of note.
With winter comes pain,
Every season has an end."
The Greenhornes featuring Holly Golightly - There is an End
The Greenhornes collaborated with British singer Holly Golightly who performed lead vocals on There is an End, written by Craig Fox, the band's guitarist/lead vocalist. It originally appeared on their 2002 album Dual Mono, but later served as the de facto theme song to the 2005 Jim Jarmusch film Broken Flowers with Bill Murray. By a weird coincidence, the very same weekend that Broken Flowers came out, I happened to go to back-to-back shows of The White Stripes here in Vancouver for which The Greenhornes were the openers. After the second show, I hung around with some other fans in the vain hope of meeting Jack or Meg (neither showed) but The Greenhornes did and I shook hands with Patrick Keeler and got the band to autograph my ticket (which I promptly lost). Of course, Keeler and Little Jack Lawrence went on to join Jack White as part of The Raconteurs and Lawrence would also be part of The Dead Weather when they debuted earlier this year.
Holly Golightly - There's an End
This version sans The Greenhornes (and slightly altered title) appeared on Holly Golightly's 2003 album Truly She is None Other, which featured liner notes by none other than Jack White. Golightly also joined Jack and Meg for the duet (um, word for three-person duet??) It's True That We Love One Another from The White Stripes album Elephant.
Gnarls Barkley - There's an End (Live in Boston)
This was an early Christmas gift courtesy of fellow blogger Leopold Stotch of Versions Galore. I had been searching for this for the past couple years ever since finding out Gnarls Barkley had been covering There is an End during their summer '06 tour. I knew some sort of recording existed somewhere but I failed miserably in my attempts to track it down until it magically appeared in my inbox last month. Many thanks!! Funnily enough, that same summer The Raconteurs were frequently covering Gnarls Barkley's Crazy at their own shows!
Ronnie Spector - There is an End (featuring Patti Smith)
Last month saw the US release of The Last of the Rock Stars from the legendary Ronnie Spector, though the album actually came out in the UK in 2006. Backed by Keeler and Lawrence (no Fox?), this version also features fellow 2007 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Patti Smith on backing vocals. Running with this whole theme of White Stripes connections, this summer Meg White married Patti Smith's son Jackson in a double ceremony with Jack Lawrence and his fiancée in the backyard of Jack White's Nashville home.
Okay, so this is probably my last post until after the holidays, but I've got a bunch of news/links to share, as always, filtered through the tunnel vision that is Fong Songs.
- The nominations are in and the Coverville Countdown is on! Brian's annual countdown of the top 40 covers of all-time is in the voting stage until December 22nd. This year's a little different with the newly instituted Coverville Hall of Fame, 10 perennial cover contenders taken out of the running to let some new blood in. Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah, Johnny Cash's Hurt, and Bill Shatner's Common People are among the elite covers that are no longer eligible. Last week, I submitted my five nominations for your consideration: Ellen McIlwaine's Higher Ground, Moxy Früvous's Psycho Killer, OK Go & Bonerama's Rock 'n' Roll Suicide, Danny Michel's Young Americans, and PoZitive Orchestra's Shine on You Crazy Diamond. Vote here!
- Speaking of voting, Cover Me's latest cover commission is We Are the Willows. Vote what song he should cover! Right now, The Shins' Caring is Creepy leads the pack, but I went with The Zombies' The Way I Feel Inside.
- In case you missed it, 2009 Polaris Prize winners F*cked Up recently released their cover of Do They Know It's Christmas on iTunes with 100% of the proceeds going to Canadian non-profit organizations. The eclectic cast of performers lending their support include Tegan & Sara, David Cross, Yo La Tengo, GZA, Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig, Bob Mould, Andrew W.K., Kyp Malone, and Kevin Drew. You can buy it on iTunes and read more about it here.
- Fong Songs fave Alex Robinson's A Kidnapped Santa Claus is in bookstores everywhere and online if you're looking for a last minute stocking stuffer or just a plain great gift. Full disclosure: I know Alex reads my blog(!), but that won't stop me from an shamelessly plugging it without being asked to! A Kidnapped Santa Claus is a graphic adaptation of a 1904 short story by L. Frank Baum (he of Oz fame), which can be read for free in its entirety on Project Gutenberg. I'd honestly never heard of the story before this, but it's fun to notice the obvious influence it had on the plot of Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas. As always, Alex's drawings are great and it bears his distinct style even though it's his first adaptation, not to mention his first all ages book. There are hilarious hidden visual jokes throughout and I should definitely mention there are pugs in suits, ha ha. Highly recommended! Alex's epic Box Office Poison was also recently named one of The AV Club best comics of the past decade--congrats, Alex!
- I've mentioned this before, but it's worth a revisit: Covered, the blog of comic book covers redrawn by other comic artists. Just like music covers, the best ones completely make it in their own style while still retaining the essence of the original. I'm consistently impressed by the output and occasionally I'll actually recognize a cover from my miniscule collection of single issue comics (somewhere in a box back home).
- Pomplamoose made waves in the cover world with their relatively recent hit youtube video cover of Beyoncé's Single Ladies. And that's not all, they have great covers of Beat It, Mrs. Robinson, September, and more. The accompanying videos are must-see since the San Francisco duo are pioneers in the self-created movement of "VideoSongs". That is, every instrument, voice, and sound you hear can be seen in the video (this will completely make sense when you watch the videos). Even without the visuals, the music is fantastic and all the covers can be downloaded for free from their myspace page. Proving they're not just a one-trick pony (or one-trick moose), their latest triumph is the Christmas original Always in the Season. Watch the magic here. This time, the duo is joined by a mini orchestral section that includes Zoë Keating on cello! A new classic.
- If you have some sort of crazy White Stripes fanatic on your Christmas list and you're extremely generous, well, Jack White just made your gift-giving decision very easy. Last week, it was announced that a limited edition box set for The White Stripes concert film Under Great White Northern Lights would be immediately available for pre-order and released in March. The film, which recently premiered at the Toronto Film Fest, celebrates The White Stripes unprecedented tour of every Canadian province and territory in 2007. The über boxset includes the DVD of the film, an exclusive DVD of the entire 10th Anniversary show in Glace Bay, the band's first ever live album on CD and double LP with songs recorded during the Canadian tour, a 208-page hardcover photo book with a foreword by Jim Jarmusch, 1 of 6 different silk screens designed by Rob Jones, a and a 7" vinyl with two live cuts included The Wheels on the Bus (uh, recorded on a city bus in Winnipeg). Naturally, I was all over it and pre-ordered it as soon as humanly possible, in spite of the hefty $200 price tag (watch it, it jumps $50 in the new year). If you're a long-time reader, you may remember me going on and on and on about the tour that whole summer on the blog. In addition to our hometown Edmonton gig, my friends and I managed to pull off a crazy pilgrimage to the Maritimes to see four shows included the ultimate gig in Glace Bay. I'll let you know if I make it on the DVD. :)
- From the realm of unlikely cover collaborators, Montréal rocker Sam Roberts performed a cover of Kenny Rogers' The Gambler with the The Holiday Jam Players at a benefit show in Toronto a few days ago. Sharing the stage: Kathleen Edwards, Jim Bryson, City & Colour's Dallas Green, TSN's Dave Hodge, and CBC's Ron MacLean! Watch here.
- In related hockey news, strictly for Oilers fans... country singer Corb Lund penned a celebratory Oilers anthem called The Oil's Back in Town. The song is peppered with classic calls from 630 CHED play-by-play man Rod Phillips during our dynasty years. Fun stuff and proceeds from the single's sale benefit The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation. Buy it from iTunes today!
- A silent short film directed by Neil Gaiman called Statuesque will make its debut on SKY1 in the UK on Christmas Day at 10pm. It stars the always reliable Bill Nighy and the lovely Miss Amanda Palmer. If I remember correctly, the score is by Sxip Shirey.
- My ever-dwindling concert bucket list will get another check when Jamie Cullum drops by the Commodore Ballroom in March! Cullum will be touring select cities in the US (also Vancouver and Toronto!) in support of his first album in 4 years, The Pursuit. You may have seen his, ahem, explosive video for his cover of Rihanna's Don't Stop the Music, a song I admittedly only knew from the 30-second snippet that plays TWICE before every single movie I've seen in the past year.
- Zunior.com, the "little digital music store" from Canada, recently released a full cover album of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Featuring recent Fong Songs fave Jill Barber crooning The Christmas Song, the whole 12 track album can be bought for only $8.88 with 100% of the proceeds going to the Daily Bread Food Bank.