Saw this while waiting in line at Plan 9. Cracked me up. I’ve been looking for an excuse to post “Hello” without having to write a thousand-word hot take about it. I just… like it.
Side note for all you mashup fans: It pairs very nicely with Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City.”
Adele — “Hello” [Spotify/iTunes]
Bob Dylan has written a lot of songs. More like a shit-ton of songs. As in, if he had a nickel for every song he wrote, he could pull a Scrooge McDuck and take a daily dip in his pool of nickels. What I’m trying to say is there are a lot of Bob Dylan tunes out there, and if someone tells you with a straight face they know every single one, it’s completely acceptable to give them this face in return. His catalog is a such big mountain to climb, and let’s be honest; the thought of listening to all of his albums back to back would make even the most fervent fanatic blink once or twice. There are just so many damn lyrics. Good lord. But his being so prolific is, of course, a gift, not a curse. You can keep discovering new reasons to love him, even if you’ve already heard hundreds of his songs, and that’s where covers become particularly handy. Hearing other musicians interpret Bob Dylan’s music is one of the best ways to visit the parts of his dark and brilliant brain you haven’t been to yet, and just last night my friend and musical sherpa Clay alerted me to an amazing cache of 76 such covers. Assembled to benefit Amnesty International and released less than a month ago, Chimes of Freedom: The Music of Bob Dylan offers takes on Dylan tunes by everyone under the sun, including Elvis Costello, K’naan, Adele, Bettye LaVette, Pete Townshend, Bad Religion… really the list goes on and on and on. It’s nuts. And [be sure to read this in your best and most disproportionately loud Billy Mays* voice] ALL 76 OF THESE SONGS CAN BE YOURS FOR THE LOW, LOW PRICE OF $19.99! Crazy, eh? So many thoughtful and revealing covers at roughly a quarter a pop AND a large chunk of the money goes to a charitable organization. Everyone wins! Hell, you may even be able to write off the purchase on your taxes (I have no idea if this is true. It’s probably not. You Hear That Financial Services, L.L.C. isn’t exactly street legal, and may or may not, in fact, exist). I’m still making my way through the whole collection, but check out two of my favorites so far, — My Morning Jacket doing “You’re A Big Girl Now” and Raphael Saadiq doing “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat.” Hey, did you know Raphael Saadiq was in Tony! Toni! Toné!? SRSLY! Listen below and click here to snag Chimes of Freedom from iTunes.
My Morning Jacket — “You’re A Big Girl Now” (Bob Dylan cover)
Raphael Saadiq — “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” (Bob Dylan cover)
*RIP, Billy. Something tells me Saint Peter is well stocked with Oxy Clean, whether he needed it or not.
I’m usually a huge fan of ridiculous spectacles, pop music and making judgmental comments about celebrities, so the Grammys should be right in my wheelhouse. Nevertheless, I had a really tough time enjoying what I watched last night. Something just felt… off. Reading this stomach-turning Hello Giggles post about Chris Brown just a few hours before the ceremony certainly didn’t help. Seeing this collection of “I’d let Chris Brown beat me” tweets after the show didn’t help either. Nor did the ratio of performances to on-air award presentations, which seems to grow more disproportionate each year (only 10 of the 78 awards were given out on TV). Whatever it was, I walked away more than a little disappointed. But guess what? It’s a big Internet out there, and I’ll let someone else complain about how bad the show was. Besides, a few things happened that made me very happy that I did watch. I loved Justin Vernon’s acceptance speech, for one thing. The acknowledgment of his discomfort in winning showed equal measures of courage and integrity, given his earlier comments about how meaningless these awards are and how creativity should be its own reward. Adele winning everything in sight was heartwarming, as well. I find a tremendous amount of character in her voice, which is refreshing in a pop music paradigm that, as Dave Grohl pointed out in his (rudely truncated) acceptance speech, often favors tonal perfection over personality. But the thing that I’ll remember most about this year’s Grammys was the Civil Wars performing a quickie, one-minute version of “Barton Hollow,” the song that won the award for “Best Country Duo/Group Performance.” They were great. I’d listened to this tune a number of times, and I’ve always liked it, but their natural demeanor and strong, straightforward delivery really stood out from the glut of comically over-produced and awkwardly shoehorned collaborations. Not only did Civil Wars seem like they belonged on such a grand stage, it looked like they could teach a thing or two to some of the other, more well-known and brazenly bedazzled honorees. Their minute on screen was exactly what I needed to jump on the Civil Wars bandwagon with both feet, and I can’t wait to spend more time with their 2011 release Barton Hollow, which took home the award for “Best Folk Album.” Listen to the studio version of the title track below and click here to buy the album on iTunes. I have a feeling you won’t be the only one doing so this week.
The Civil Wars — “Barton Hollow“
Miracles happen, you guys. Wanna know how I know? OK, besides Tim Tebow. I know they happen because it’s January 11, and I’m still rockin’ and rollin’ with my third New Year’s Reso-tune-tion! In case you missed it, as part of my resolution to start keeping better track of concert and album release dates, I created a special Google Calendar — the YHT Pumped Up Calendar — and made it public so all the interweb could join in on the fun (and… um… keep me honest). Click here to check it out — you’ll see that it’s been filling up with tons of great stuff (the upcoming Reptar and Rodrigo y Gabriela concerts in Charlottesville are two highlights), but yesterday I added what very well may be the most important calendar entry yet: the March 27 release of Justin Townes Earle’s new full-length, Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now. I was reminded to add it because Rolling Stone just posted an exclusive download of the album’s title track. I’ve been hearing amazing things about the album from the lucky ducks who managed to score an advance copy (my jealousy of these folks knows no bounds), so getting to download this track is an unexpected thrill, and it confirmed some of the best rumors about the nature of the album. For instance, rumor has it that Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now goes in a Memphis soul direction, which suits me just fine, with plenty of horns, which suits me just super-fine. And yes, I did spend extra time on that last sentence to keep the phrase “rumor has it” intact so I could link to the Adele song. My bizarre obsession with that song also knows no bounds. What were we talking about? Oh yeah — listen to “Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now” below and click here to download the track over at Rolling Stone.
Justin Townes Earle — “Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now“
Ladies’ Week: Day 2. The Artist: Adele. The Album: 21.
The first time I remember hearing Adele, she was belting out the lyrics of “Rolling in the Deep” over top of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” Was this the result of a crazy good celebrity sighting while at a karaoke bar in London? Um… no. But I have been to London before! It was lovely. Actually, my cover-loving friend Phill was the one who sent me this mashup made in heaven a few weeks back. Afterwards, it seemed like I saw Adele’s name everywhere (As a side note, I love when people are huge stars on the other side of the Atlantic and I had no idea. It’s like going back hundreds of years to when a friend would have had to sail for months on a clipper ship to hand deliver mp3s of cool mashups to you.), and when a contributor to NPR Music cited “Someone Like You” as one the best songs of the year so far, I knew where to turn next: YouTube. What I found was an impressive performance by a confident, yet human vocalist. It was Adele performing “Someone Like You” at the 2011 Brit Awards, and while her voice is gorgeous, and she is clearly a superstar, she isn’t an every-single-note-is-perfect, who-can-tell-if-she’s-autotuning, singing cyborg like other famous vocalists who shall remain celinedionnameless. Her voice has real soul and personality, and it makes the lyrics sound like they’re coming from the heart, not some faceless songwriter’s pen. Check out the video above for this touching performance of “Someone Like You” to see what I mean, and buy her album 21 on iTunes here. And just for fun, check out that mashup of “Rolling in the Deep” and “Crazy” below.