...we've got the means to make amends. I am lost, I'm no guide, but I'm by your side. (Pearl Jam, Leash)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Under the covers with the Counting Crows

It's been raining covers and rarities on the Counting Crows' MySpace page lately, and right now they've got up 4 great studio tracks from their so-called "Under The Covers" sessions. Their distinctive touch on each of these songs is thoroughly enjoyable, even on the Rod Stewart/Faces ditty (a man who, in general, I cannot abide, due to flagrant violations such as these).

Adam Duritz fills us in:

To celebrate what a great week we had in the studio, I decided this was going to be Covers Week on our Myspace page, so all the songs will be from the unreleased "Under The Covers" we recorded by ourselves one weekend during the "Hard Candy" sessions when Lilywhite was out of town.

We got "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere", a Bob Dylan song from the Basement Tapes sessions. It was also recorded by the Byrds on the album "Sweetheart Of The Rodeo" album. I have no idea what the hell this song is about. It's one of those Dylan songs where the lyric is so good that it doesn't even matter that none of the words seem to make any sense at all. Fucking nonsense as far as I can tell but somehow it still makes total sense to me. We got the fucker in one tape, as you will hear me clearly state at the end of the song. You try and pull that shit off.

Next up is "Ooh La La" by The Faces from the album of the same name. The Faces of course featured Rod Stewart on lead vocals, Ron Wood (later of The Rolling Stones on guitar), Kenny Jones (later the drummer for The Who) on the kit, Ronnie Lane on bass, and Ian McLagan on piano (also a member of the Stones, albeit an unofficial one). "Ooh La La" was one of the rare songs written and sung by Ronnie Lane. If It seems familiar, it may be because it is the song that closes the film "Rushmore".

On our version, Rod Stewart was unavailable so I sang the vocals but the rest of the instrument are still played by the The Faces......or are they? We were having a lot of fun recording this track. You can tell because I just don't seem to want to end the damn song. The body of the song is only 2:40 but the last chorus goes on for almost another two full minutes because I simply refuse to stop and keep calling for everyone to go around another time.

We had the same problem ending "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere". I may have been a little hammered by this time. It's only fitting, after all. When The Faces released their big box set a couple years ago, they (rather fittingly) called it "Five Guys Walk Into A Bar... ".

Then we have "Start Again", maybe my favorite song by one of my favorite bands, the wonderful Scottish band Teenage Fanclub. It's cut from their album, my favorite of theirs, "Songs From Northern Britain". We decided to cut it with lots of harmonies and acoustic guitars as if it was a Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young song. It's probably my favorite track on "Under The Covers". Me and Dan just sing the shit out of it and when Immy adds the high harmony, the song just soars. Plus this song features my one and only piano solo on record.

Lastly, but certainly not least, is our version of the great Jackson C Frank tune "Blues Run The Game". This one is just me and Immy. Jackson Frank was a friend and peer of Paul Simon, Nick Drake, Sandy Denny (of Fairport Convention), and Richard Thompson. Legend has it they all shared a flat together in London in the very early 60's. When Simon left to return to America and formed Simon and Garfunkel, they recorded "Blues Run The Game" for one of their 1st albums. It turned out great but for some reason didn't make the cut and was left off the album. It turned up years later on a Simon and Garfunkel box set called "Bookends", which is where I first heard it. Immy and I have played it many times in concert but I don't think we've ever again captured the pure emotional magic of the first perfect performance.

Nothing on "Under The Covers" overdubbed or comped together. All these songs were recorded live and this is exactly how they sounded. We recorded live and we recorded fast. I think we did 14 songs in 2 days.

Dig it cats, these are the songs we love. Hope you love 'em too.

You Ain't Going Nowhere (Dylan cover) - Counting Crows

Ooh La La (Faces cover) - Counting Crows

Blues Run The Game (Jackson Frank cover) - Counting Crows

Start Again (Teenage Fanclub cover) - Counting Crows

My PS - I think I prefer the breathless purity-of-the-moment with this live version of Blues Run The Game, even though I can't complain on the good studio version:

Blues Run The Game (live) - Counting Crows

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At May 10, 2007 10:36 PM, Blogger Scott said...

sweet... ten years ago, the counting crows were my favorite band...

At May 11, 2007 7:23 AM, Anonymous jethrnh said...

thanks so much!! i've been dying to hear new cc. love covers too! esp the faces. my wife and i have been huge rod fans over the years. and i love this song.
thanks for posting this stuff!

At May 11, 2007 8:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks again heather. Its always fun to hear Counting Crows cover other bands. The Shim Sham Shows are amazing.

There are Rumors of a possible summer tour with Live and Collective Soul.


Kev in Stl

At May 11, 2007 8:24 AM, Blogger Brendan said...

Cool, thanks for these! I love the version of Ooh La La, but my version of Blues Run the Game skips so will upgrade with this one :]

At May 11, 2007 8:31 AM, Anonymous Amy said...

Thanks Heather! I just saw them at Jazz Fest. In between Rain King they covered Springsteen's Thunder Road ~ it was awesome!
Here's a shakey video found on youtube

At May 11, 2007 9:51 AM, Blogger Stephen K. said...

Thanks, I've been trying to track down better quality versions of a couple of these. Love their versions of 'Blues Run the Game' and 'Ooh La La'.

At May 11, 2007 3:49 PM, Anonymous russell said...

Ofcourse there might be some readers who consider the Crows to be the real violators on show and Mr.Stewart,for all his faults and failings,to be the real thing here.......have the cc's recorded anything as blisteringly real as Maggie May or the whole of Gasoline Alley - are they worthy enough to touch the hem of "Three Button Hand me Down"? Have the Rolling Crows a single song as good as these?

At May 11, 2007 3:52 PM, Blogger heather said...

russell, I am completely willing to give you all of that and am willing to be educated in the ways of the rodster. It's just that i've just never seen Adam Duritz in an orange and green striped bikini bottom with his pubes creeping out the top, so I really can't make an apt comparison.

At May 11, 2007 4:52 PM, Blogger Satisfied '75 said...

I dont count myself a Counting Crows fan, but Adam Duritz cover of Warren Zeven's "Carmelita" is fantastic and worth seeking out if you have not heard it.

At May 11, 2007 5:11 PM, Anonymous russell said...

Okay - fair point.

At May 11, 2007 11:59 PM, Anonymous rjg7v said...

for whatever its worth, ronnie wood (not ronnie lane) sang ooh la la on the faces album 'ooh la la'. the stewart version was recorded later is much more celctic and thus not as good.

At May 12, 2007 2:30 AM, Anonymous Larry Bird said...

All of you make sure to seek out the original Jackson C. Frank version of 'Blues Run the Game.' It's haunting.

At May 13, 2007 12:47 AM, Anonymous Jess said...

Hey Heather, have you heard the Counting Crows' cover of Ryan Adams' Come Pick Me Up? What's your opinion of it?

At June 15, 2007 6:34 PM, Anonymous doug said...

hey thanks for the cover songs they are awesome. currently counting crows have new cover songs up on their myspace page. is there any chance you could post them on here??? i would appreciate it sooo much. thanks!

At August 15, 2007 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Counting crows are still one of the best bands around #1 in my top 5. These covers are not only well done, but also great songs. "Blues Run the Game" WOW!

At September 13, 2007 6:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you take the mp3's off the site?


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