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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cover Versions That Surpass the Originals

posted by on October 22 at 2:42 PM

Hearing LCD Soundsystem’s rendition of Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into the Fire” on KEXP this morning prompted me to ponder the phenomenon of covers that may be better than the originals (totally subjective, of course, but it’s fun to play). As fantastic as Nilsson’s “Jump” is, I think James Murphy & Co. just may have nudged out the blueprint.

Off the top of my head, I give you a few more examples:

Aretha Franklin topping Otis Redding’s “Respect”
Spacemen 3 over the Red Krayola’s “Transparent Radiation”
Bauhaus surprisingly besting T.Rex’s “Telegram Sam”
Anything the Byrds did from the Bob Dylan songbook
Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower” over Dylan’s
Mercury Rev soaring over David Bowie’s “Memory of a Free Festival”
Skylab triumphing over Kim Fowley’s “The Trip”
Loop edging out the Pop Group’s “Thief of Fire”
Stevie Wonder beating by a nose the Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out”
And some days I think Devo’s version of “Satisfaction” is better than the Rolling Stones’ and Primal Scream’s “Slip Inside This House” is superior to the Thirteenth Floor Elevators’.

What are your picks?

Nilsson’s “Jump Into the Fire”


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

iTunes Shuffle Is Great Until iTunes Shuffle Plays a Song You Really Don’t Want to Hear

posted by on October 21 at 2:15 PM

babyipod.jpgI’m both indecisive and an avid music fan. So when I look down at my iPod with hundreds (thousands?) of songs, I very often throw my hands up, switch it in to shuffle, and let my iPod do the deciding. Because I can never decide.

But sometimes that causes a big problem. Sometimes the iPod, unknowingly, ruins my whole day.

Which is why I propose, dear Apple, that for the next edition of the iPod, you install a optional feature that could block certain songs from coming up in a shuffled playlist or, perhaps, do something like ask for the listener’s permission before going forth and playing the song. Because yes, I like almost every song on my iPod; a song wouldn’t be on my iPod if I didn’t like it. But there are certain songs that are on my iPod that exist for certain moments (namely moments when I’m being an emotional jackass) and those are the only times I ever want to hear those songs. There are exceptions, yes, but my inanimate iPod has no idea when those exceptions are. And perhaps I’m not in the mood to hear that one song that makes me think of that one time that I’m trying very hard not to think about. I never would’ve guessed, when I enabled the shuffle feature, that the iPod—of all the songs loaded into my iPod—would come across it. But, alas, there it is. Whether I like it or not. Goddammit.

But some kind of song lock feature would save us all from having to deal with those day-ruining moments! Good idea, no?

Personally, I think it’s almost as good as putting a breathalyzer on cell phones after 2 am to block drunk dialing/texting.