Thursday, September 02, 2010

Fong Songs 101 All-Time Covers: #15 to 11

Just joining us?
I'm counting down 101 of my all-time favourite covers before packing this blog away in the attic.
Read my countdown preamble here.

Oddly enough, the logo and goofy tagline has never changed since day one! My awesome friends made this shirt for my birthday one year. If I remember correctly, the blog had not even reached its first anniversary.

From the get-go I've been inclined, if not unofficially mandated, to provide a Canadian bias to my blog coverage. As a Canadian blogger, I'm more than happy to draw attention to and trumpet homegrown talent (Danny Michel!) while apologizing for others (Nickelback). Canadian Content (AKA CanCon) is a unavoidable part of the Canadian radio and television landscape, requiring minimum percentages of Canadian produced content to air. Sometimes we grumble about it (i.e. lots of Loverboy airplay), but when done right it can be used to celebrate unheralded talent and hey, that's sort of what music blogging is all about, eh? I even started an irregularly updated and eventually abandoned feature called Canadian Cover Content to discuss cover songs of and/or by Canadian artists. Here are five of my favourite CanConCovers.

15. Captain Tractor - London Calling [originally by The Clash]
Hometown Edmonton boys Captain Tractor were great songwriters and impeccable musicians that were vastly underrated, except perhaps locally. Their 1999 album Celebrity Traffic Jam marks the first and only time my name shows up in an album's liner notes, which I think just happened for pre-ordering the disc (it was also my birthday present!).

14. The Bicycles - Cuddly Toy [originally by Harry Nilsson]
Toronto indie-rock band The Bicycles specialized in wonderful originals inspired by the bubblegum pop of yesteryear, but their debut The Good, The Bad and the Cuddly also featured this cover that was originally written by Nilsson for The Monkees. I did not realize until just now that five of the songs on that album including this one were recorded with Robert Sledge (of Ben Folds Five) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

13. Tok Tok Tok - The Weight [originally by The Band]
The Weight has been covered umpteen times and most artists don't really mess with it, but this groovy genre-bustin' cover by "acoustic soul" band Tok Tok Tok will leave you tapping your toes all day long.

12. Danny Michel - Gloomy Sunday [originally by Rezső Seress]
Gloomy Sunday is the so-called "Hungarian suicide song" that, according to urban legend, was banned from radio play after leading to a series of suicides. The lyrics tell of the author's recently deceased love ("little white flowers will never awaken you") and his desire to join her ("my heart and I have decided to end it all"). For the English version, most famously performed by Billie Holiday, a vaguely happy ending was tacked on to the otherwise depressing lyrics, revealing it was all a bad dream. More likely a marketing ploy than any real suicide epidemic, the legend was further enhanced by the fact that the original composer Rezső Seress did in fact commit suicide. I never did get around to writing and posting my planned "Gloomy Sunday in Canada" feature with CanConCovers of this song, but it was all an elaborate ruse to post this cover by Danny Michel anyway. Mind you, a remix by Winnipeg electronic artist Venetian Snares titled Öngyilkos Vasárnap is definitely worth seeking out.

11. Serena Ryder - It Doesn't Matter Anymore [originally by Paul Anka; recorded by Buddy Holly]
This piano/organ/vocal cover by Ontario singer Serena Ryder comes from If Your Memory Serves You Well, her cover album of songs penned by Canadian songwriters, in this case Paul Anka. It's a dramatic change from the upbeat original as performed by Buddy Holly in 1958 and is probably more indebted to Linda Ronstadt's country rendition from 1975.

Fong Songs 101 countdown concludes tomorrow with the coveted Top 10!

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