Take It Down

It’s been a while since posted a good cover. My love for Patty Griffin is deep and abiding. Here is a recording of her performing Take it Down, from the John Hiatt tribute album called It’ll Come To You. They are both such exceptional songwriters, and her interpretation of his song is breathtaking and gorgeous and sad.  It is one of those songs, like Bonnie Raitt’s cover of Jackson Browne’s My Opening Farewell, that always breaks my heart.  The Wailin’ Jennys do a pretty nice version of Take it Down too, but no one truly compares to Patty.

I’m still married to it all
That ain’t no place to hang around
My love is 50 feet tall

Tears all rusted on my face
And I’m just an empty place
Where your love used to fit



Here Comes The Rain

Say what you will about Daryl Hall and his performing abilities, but he is one of the great pop songwriters and arrangers of his era.  Vocally I think he always oversings a bit, putting in too many unnecessary and throw away notes, many that make me cringe.  As a player, he is good, but not great.  But as an writer, arranger, an interpreter, I think he is excellent.  I love how much he loves the old soul standards.  I’m right there with him.

Here is Daryl covering doing a great cover of a Eurythmics song, featuring ol’ Dave Stewart himself.


I encountered The Wall for the first time when I was maybe 12 or 13.  It was in Texas.  We were visiting family, staying at my grandmother and Uncle Nonnie’s home.  My uncle Joe lived there too, and he had a great record collection.  I was introduced to all kinds of groups I’d never heard of before.

One day in that house, I heard Roger Waters’ opus for the first time, and it was a revelation for me.  I loved the dark themes, interspersed with the smallest glimmers of light. The songs were beautifully crafted, bleak and sometimes cruel.  Musically, it was new territory for me, my first meaningful exposure to the concept album.  I was hooked.  It was intoxicating.  Emotionally it allowed me to explore those dark places in a manner that was detached and somewhat voyeuristic. Later I was able to relate some of the themes back to my own life.  I connected to it.

I’ve listened to The Wall hundreds of times, although certainly not much in the last 20 years.  I heard this cover of Mother earlier this year and I was instantly drawn to it.  I had not considered the possibility of a woman singing this song.  I just didn’t occur to me.  It is such a bold move.  The song takes on a completely different emotional texture, but keeps all of its darkness and beauty.

Natalie Maines, singing Pink Floyd.


We Shall

I started going to Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church in the spring of 2000. My wife suggested it, using a manner of persuasion that is familiar to anyone in a long-term relationship. I wasn’t against going. I was just skeptical. How would this place be any different than anywhere else?

Yes, we were church shopping, for reasons I’ll tell in another story. I was beginning to believe that we would not find a place that fit us. I’m not even sure I knew what that would be if we were to stumble into it, but I knew we would just know. We Would Just Know. And we did. That is how it happened. We came. We ate. We stayed.

In December of 2000 the pastor asked me, incredibly, if I would be willing to deliver The Message in a service. To Preach. The Sermon. This was a bit overwhelming to a boy who grew up Catholic and saw nothing but that particular authoritarian regime when it came to matters of church. I learned later that such a thing can only occur at a small church. She would be on vacation, of course, and needed some poor schlump to fill in. Ignorant as I was, I said Yes.

I found that I like doing it, only if done occasionally. I’ve done it now maybe 15-20 times over these 13 years. I’ve preached about personal stuff. I’ve preached community things. I preached right after 9/11, at a Thanksgiving service held in a nearby public school. That particular service was something, I will tell you.

I realized tonight that almost every time, I’ve ended the service with the same hymn. I have a certain connection to this song. Maybe it is because I’m an optimistic guy. There is always something to hope for, something deep in our hearts, something we want to believe.

I heard this song on one of my playlists tonight. I moves me every time I hear it.. As it turns out, on this particular day The Boss closed his show with this song too. I feel like I am in good company.


This is such a great cover of a song whose original version is equally great.  Like many great reinterpretations do, it was recast in a completely different light.  It is almost a completely different song.  Exceptional.

Ryan Adams, singing Oasis.

Where Have You Been, My Blue-Eyed Son?

I’ve always been deeply conflicted about Dylan.  As a performer, he is practically unintelligible. As a songwriter and lyricist, he is incomparable.  Thus, I always like Dylan songs when someone else sings them.  This is one of the finest examples of how a gifted performer can make the performance of a Dylan song worthy of the paper it is written on.  In today’s Cover of the Day, we have…

Jason Mraz, singing Bob Dylan.

An Unlikely Pairing

Another gorgeous cover.  I don’t know what the song is about, other than perhaps being a metaphor for loneliness.  It is a bit of a lyrical riddle, but one I am happy to leave unsolved.  The original is a great version.  This cover rendition is made glorious by Sir Captain Fantastic himself.

Elton John, singing Ryan Adams – Oh My Sweet Carolina.

[audio http://sampsons.org/files/EJ-OhMySweetCarolina.mp3]