I’m a Believer, It’s the End of the World As We Know It, and Here Comes the Sun

I’m in a covers mood. After being plagued by earworms (Is there a cure for earworms?Or, Help! I Need Somebody…) I started thinking about the earworms I was suffering from that happened to be cover versions of songs. I was in Atlanta (Look Homeward, Angel, or Things Thomas Wolfe Said) visiting, and my sister Ellen keeps the radio on stations of music from the 60s, 70s and 80s.

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It just happened to be Ellen’s birthday while I was in Atlanta.

I was born in 1961, so my sweet spot is pretty much music from the mid 1970s. Maybe not the best era for pop music, but we are teenagers when we are teenagers. C’est la vie. I seem to have been living under a rock, since my list of original versions of songs tapers off in the 1990s (with one most beautiful entry from Lou Reed in 2008). The covers, however, span the years, showing that a good pop song is timeless.

Ellen and I started a handwritten chart, which quickly got out of control!

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It’s a work in progress.
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Just a couple of pop divas hanging out.

I have cleaned up the list to make it legible. I do not expect anyone to agree with me on the choice of cover versions; a good song (and even some bad ones) has a lot of covers and our tastes differ. It would be a boring world if we all liked the same things!

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I should get a juke box and put all of these on it. Please forgive typos and misspelled names.

I am not going to post each and every song and its cover(s) on the list, as much as I would like to. Here are a few of my favorites, or if not my favorites, at least memorable versions of these songs. I am sure each and every one of you can add so many titles to this list. Feel free to add yours in the comments!

On my birthday, in 1992, there just happened to be an amazing tribute to Bob Dylan at Madison Square Garden. The moment I remember most clearly is Eddie Vedder and Mike McCready performing Dylan’s 1963 Masters of War. It’s pretty intense.

 

A song that I played over and over again during a certain sad period in my life: Alison Krauss & Union Station’s 1995 version of Baby, Now That I’ve Found You. It’s much more melancholy than the original to me. And despite the cheerful face I generally show to the world, I love a good melancholy, make-me-cry, song.

 

Stevie Nicks’s song Landslide also serves the “I’m sad and I’m going to listen to this song over and over” purpose.

 

Ellen’s request for the list: Ewan McGregor singing Elton John’s Your Song  (1970) to Nicole Kidman in the 2001 film Moulin Rouge.

 

For my own selfish ends, I have to get some Hall & Oates in here somewhere! So here they are covering The Spinners 1972 hit I’ll Be Around.

 

I’m sticking with the original on this one; I’ve been singing this one in the car all week now so I have to post it to get it out of my system!

 

This one cracks me up. I love R.E.M., and It’s the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine), is a good song. I will not brook argument on this one. I’m posting the original and the cover, which I first heard as filler music on NPR. It made me laugh, and we need more laughter in the world.

 

In the songs-that-make-me-cry category is Eva Cassidy covering Sting’s Fields of Gold. I remember the first time I heard it. It was a Sunday, I was driving to my job in Benicia from Davis, listening to Acoustic Sunrise on KFOG radio. Heart-breakingly beautiful.

 

Ellen keeps up with current pop music better than I do, so this is her pick: Sam Smith covering Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car. I’d never heard of Sam Smith before (I mentioned that rock I live under), but I approve.

 

I can’t not post the awesomeness that is Richie Havens performing Here Comes the Sun.

 

In case you’ve never hear Peter Gabriel’s 2010 cover of Lou Reed’s 2008 song The Power of the Heart, I hope you love it as much as I do.

 

I think I’ll leave you with something to cheer you up and make you dance. If this doesn’t make you dance, I give up!

These Are a Few of My Favorite Podcasts

I often listen to audiobooks (thanks to SimplyAudiobooks) in the car on my commute. One of my most recent pleasant surprises was Juliet in August, by Dianne Warren, read by Cassandra Campbell. I’m a Kent Haruf fan; I love his straightforward prose and moving portrayals of intertwining lives in small town Colorado. This had a similar feel, but set in Saskatchewan, with rich, overlapping stories and a real sense of the difficulties of everyday life.

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But I am between books right now, and am on a streak of podcast listening while I look for my next engrossing book to listen to. I revisited a particular favorite this morning, The Dead Authors Podcast. It’s a hilarious live podcast with host time-traveling H.G. Wells (Paul F. Thompkins) in conversation with a variety of writers brought back from the past in his time machine. It is connected with 826 National, a non-profit that includes the tutoring centers such as 826 Valencia in San Francisco. Even when I am not familiar with the writers, I have a good time. The most recent was with Lucy Maud Montgomery (Ryan Beil), author of the Anne of Green Gables books. Spoiler alert–she really hated Anne and wanted to kill her off.

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This got me thinking about some of my other favorite podcasts. Of course, I’ve gone through listening fads. For a while I didn’t listen to anything but Animal Radio; then it was KCRW’s Good Food with Evan Kleiman. But I’ve moved on from those.

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Now my must listen list includes:

  1. Pop Culture Happy Hour, hosted by Linda Holmes, Glen Weldon, Stephen Thompson and a rotating list of guest hosts, is the podcast from Monkey See, NPR’s blog for pop culture news and analysis. Not only is it entertaining, but I feel less like I live under a rock when I listen. I’ve gotten great book, movie and music tips.pchhblogrect1_wide-aa67d67ddbb99453ba1ea08023212b2611652e39-s400-c85
  2. Futility Closet: “an idler’s miscellany of compendious amusements” hosted by Greg and Sharon Ross, “is a collection of entertaining curiosities in history, literature, language, art, philosophy, and mathematics, designed to help you waste time as enjoyably as possible.” And the lateral thinking puzzles are addictive.
  3. Mystery Show, where Starlee Kine solves mysteries. Listen to case #3: Belt Buckle.mystery_logo_small
  4. This American Life, the classic that I probably don’t need to describe, with host Ira Glass.
  5. Radiolab, another NPR standby, “where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.”
  6. Ask Me Another, also from NPR (yes, I’m an NPR kinda gal), probably the funniest quiz show, like being at a pub quiz with really fun people. Hosted by Ophira Eisenberg; I’m especially fond of house musician Jonathan  Coulton and the musical quizzes.  askmeanother_sq-ed74d1b32e360a54992e327bf3620365f7d80df7-s400-c85
  7. America’s Test Kitchen, with host Christopher Kimball. I sometimes fast forward through the meat cookery since I’m transitioning from vegetarian to vegan, but I still love to listen to the why’s behind the answers to cooking questions.
  8. Go Vegan Radio is a new one for me so I can’t speak intelligently to its content, but it has been on the air for 13 years and bills itself as “the radio show about everything – food, health, environment, peace, politics, social justice – and broadcasts the solutions to all the problems about which other talk shows merely complain – war, violence, disease, world hunger, poverty, climate change, deforestation, resource depletion, water shortage, energy crises, habitat destruction, animal suffering.” Sounds like me!  safe_image
  9. Main Street Vegan: I first heard Victoria Moran speak at the 2015 Conscious Eating Conference in Berkeley. I was utterly charmed by her and want to be her! She’s written many books and is an incredible speaker. If you ever have a chance to go to one of her talks, do yourself and favor and go!MainStreetVegan-600x200
  10. Welcome to Night Vale, maybe an acquired taste. I’ve heard it described as Garrison Keillor meets Stephen King. Apt description. I went with a friend to one of their live shows when they were in Oakland and I enjoyed it almost more than the podcast. I have to be in the right mood for this one! download

I could go on and on, but I won’t. I can’t keep up even with these. Now, any recommendations for my next audiobook?