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Cover Art

While “researching” a post — ie, listening to music on YouTube — a few weeks ago on Elvin Bishop, I found this tremendous cover of “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” by Morgan James. She seems to specialize in doing covers, and she’s great at it.

Her version is slower than Bishop’s. Slow versions of popular songs — and those done in alternate styles (such as Eric Clapton essentially covering himself on his acoustic version of “Layla”) — tend to add dimensions, nuance and emotional depth to the originals.

The first two examples are courtesy of my brother: Eva Cassidy’s version of The Box Top’s “The Letter” and Cassandra Wilson’s take on Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman.” Two related songs to listen to are John Fahey’s version of Phil Phillip’s “Sea of Love” and his mournful “Steamboat Gwine Round da Bend,” which essentially is very slowed down New Orleans-style music.

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--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

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Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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