Saturday, 1 December 2007

covered inglory #4: joan baez - 'motherland'

looks like the polls closed over at berkeley place for cover version of the century. but none of the top twenty coincided with anything i was planning to post, so on we go:

joan baez has spent more than four decades covering other folks' material. she's pretty good at it. her 2003 album, dark chords on a big guitar saw the 60-something-year-old covering songs by no depression-era alt. country songwriters like gillian welch, ryan adams, josh ritter and steve earle. the album stood out amongst a slew of old-legend-tackles-hip-songwriter LPs through its occasional political nods (including earle's bittersweet election-time lament 'christmas-time in washington' and a dedication to michael moore), and also because of its scrupulous avoidance of novelty selections, and because of baez' voice, still as pure and dignified as ever, but with a depth and warmth that's as affecting as johnny cash's geriatric croaking.

these three elements are at their strongest on baez' version of natalie merchant's 'motherland'. i'd always dismissed merchant as a hippy-skirted, doc-martens-toting early-90s also-ran, and her band 10,000 maniacs as grunge-era sleeper-blokes who fitted snugly into their role as house-band on shows like sabrina the teenage witch. this cover version suggests i might have been wrong - but then again, baez' ryan adams and steve earle covers are much better than anything adams or earle ever managed, so who knows? informed, informative ....

joan baez - 'motherland' (natalie merchant cover, from dark chords on a big guitar)

more fun

seriously strange, here's baez and GMS guest-blogger phil spector doing 'you've lost that loving feeling' (original by tom cruise), introduced by someone who looks like donovan. it doesn't quite work, but it is A CURIOSITY!!!!

and here's an excellent muppet show appearance:

Part 1 - Joan arrives dressed as Cam'ron
Part 2 - 'Honest Lullaby'
Part 3 - Joan does her Don Corleone impression, hilarity ensues

Part 4 - 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down' (with an interlude teaching rats about Gandhi)
Part 5 - 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken?'

previously on covered inglory

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