Fire and Water Records: Favorite Covers

Tune your ears to another extra-special episode of Fire and Water Records! In part 2 of a super-smash crossover event with Pop Culture Affidavit, the brothers Ryan and Neil Daly welcome guest host Tom Panarese to continue their already-three-hours-long discussion on favorite cover songs for another equally-long-conversation (seriously, what the hell is wrong with these guys?!!). What makes a great cover song? What's the point of covering somebody else's music? Do women sing Tom Waits songs better than he does? Do punk bands play Bob Dylan songs better than he does? Why does Panarese hate his sister? What genre does Neil like more than rock 'n roll? What song makes Ryan think about dying, but like, y'know, in a good way, maybe?

All these questions, and many more than you want to know, will be answered on this episode of Fire and Water Records!

Track list

  1. "Hey Jude" (The Beatles) covered by Wilson Pickett
  2. "La Bamba" (Traditional/Ritchie Valens) covered by Los Lobos
  3. "Desolation Row" (Bob Dylan) covered by My Chemical Romance
  4. "Got to Get a Message to You" (The Bee Gees) covered by Swamp Dogg
  5. "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City" (Bruce Springsteen) covered by David Bowie
  6. "Higher Ground" (Stevie Wonder) covered by Red Hot Chili Peppers
  7. "Both Sides Now" (Joni Mitchell) covered by Neil Daly
  8. "Get Down, Make Love" (Queen) covered by Nine Inch Nails
  9. "Landslide" (Fleetwood Mac) covered by Smashing Pumpkins
  10. "Drive" (The Cars) covered by Britta Phillips
  11. "Ol' 55" (Tom Waits) covered by Sarah McLachlan
  12. "Love is All Around" (Sonny Curtis/"The Mary Tyler Moore Show") covered by Joan Jett
  13. "Stand By Me" (Ben E. King) covered by Playing For Change
  14. "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" (R.E.M.) covered by Great Big Sea
  15. "Walk This Way" (Aerosmith) covered by Run D.M.C.

Additional songs: "I Will Always Love You" performed by Whitney Houston; "I'm a Believer" performed by The Monkees; "Bring it On Home to Me" performed by The Animals; "Respect" performed by Aretha Franklin; "Losing My Religion" performed by Ryan Starr; "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" performed by Guns 'n Roses; "Over the Rainbow" performed by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole; "Hazy Shade of Winter" performed by The Bangles; "Whole Lotta Love" performed by The Hollywood Vampires; "Gin and Juice" performed by The Gourds; "I Fought the Law" performed by The Clash; "All I Wanna Do (Is Make Love to You)" performed by Halestorm; "You Should Be Dancing" performed by Foo Fighters; "Gold Dust Woman" performed by Hole; "What I Like About You" performed by Poison; "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" performed by Them; "Romeo & Juliet" performed by The Indigo Girls; "Boys of Summer" performed by The Ataris; "Come On, Eileen" performed by Save Ferris; "You Really Got Me" performed by Van Halen; "I Think We're Alone Now" performed by Tiffany,

To hear part 1 of our discussion on Pop Culture Affidavit, click here.

Check out Neil's now-classic take on "Both Sides Now" right here.

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Thanks for listening!

8 responses to “Fire and Water Records: Favorite Covers

  1. Another amazing episode with a ton of great songs (as was the first part over on Pop Culture Affidavit). You guys should make this an annual thing. Seriously. Like a selection of cover songs for that pre-summer playlist or something. But what do I know?

    Oh, and how about a list of “Worst Cover Songs?” I’ve got a strong contender for you. And before you ask, yes, I do own the album. Never said my CD collection was worthy of an accolades.

    1. I agree that cover is awful, but in a grandly amusing way. It helps that it’s early, lesser, corny, repetitive Fab Four. I had to nope out on the best covers discussion for lack of time and energy, but worst covers are a more readily accessible and less competitive stain on my memory. I could dole out a half-dozen in a span of minutes. Much less likely to take up six hours of podcasting, as well.

  2. How did Shatner’s Common People cover not make the list??? HEATHENS!

    Also, loved you three together. Perhaps Ryan’s ex-wife should be on the show, too. A true Daly Christmas (Feat. Pan-Pan).

  3. I’m not really into setting criteria for covers. Several of the ones covered on the previous episode were nigh identical, but one had je ne sais quoi the other didn’t. Mostly, the question is whether the act is worthy of even making the attempt, or if a version is so definitive that it need never be covered, or if it’s just lazy, cynical crap.

    Dinosaur Jr.’s cover of “Fade Into You” is… not great. For Mr. Fixit and I, Hope Sandoval is every girl we wanted but didn’t deserve in school, looking frail and blankly into the middle distance, singing tremulously but directly into our lifelong unrequited yearning. That elevates an underwhelming cover into outright travesty. Also, I don’t care if J Mascis went without a bra today. Plus, it reminds me of that gross fad where boys would appropriate/mock girls’ pop songs.

    Wilson Pickett’s version of “Hey Jude” is cool. I don’t agree that it is in any way better than the original. Just as I will never appreciate Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You,” histrionics are no replacement for sincere sentiment. I hear Pickett and Houston. I feel McCartney and Parton.

    I’m not as into Los Lobos’ “La Bamba” because it sounds like an ’80s cover of an older song. As I recall, the band performed all the songs in the movie for Phillips to lip-sync, and I’m very fond of the movie. It’s well regarded in the Latin community. I was too familiar with the original when the cover was released, and prefer the comparative spareness, associating it with the more haunting qualities of Crickets and Big Bopper’s songs. I have a running gag of imitating Bob screaming “RICHEY” into the sky when we drive down the street of the same name in Pasadena, sometimes terrifying fellow passengers. Maná was and perhaps still is the biggest name in Latin rock. My girlfriend despises them, and mocks the taste of their vast audience as basic.

    Don’t beat around the bush, Bob Dylan is simply not the best person to sing much of his own material. He’s distinct, but limited, and not always pleasantly so. If he didn’t write so well, we wouldn’t be talking about him. I went to a Joan Osborne concert earlier this year, and realized early on that I was in the minority of relative “youngsters” that showed up for her, as opposed to the nursing home bused in for her Dylan covers served in 1:3 ratio. “Desolation Row” isn’t one of my favorites from Dylan, but the My Chemical Romance version is just annoying. I can’t understand most of the lyrics, it’s obnoxious, and Gerard Way is cosplaying Eddie from Rocky Horror? Go away.

    Is it weird that I’m not really familiar with The Bee Gees’ “Got To Get A Message To You,” but rather Swamp Dogg’s? Is it a regional thing? Anyway, yeah, bias acknowledged, but I think the original kinda sucks. I feel like I don’t feel about the Bee Gees what other people do. I really like some of their stuff– maybe even love, but there’s also a lot of indifference? Luckily, I had a number of good Bee Gees songs on compilation LPs as a kid, plus “Grease,” so I never dismissed them to the disco dustpin. They just never come to mind as favorites, either.

    Back in an hour. Don’t think I’ll have anything to say about Bowie on Springsteen. Pure shrug.

  4. I saw the Burt Lancaster/Kirk Douglas mobster buddy comedy Tough Guys theatrically in 1986. One of the ex-cons is dating a much younger woman played by Darlanne Fluegel, who takes him to a club to see a band with one of those ridiculously, obviously fake movie names, the “Red Hot Chili Peppers.” Three years later, thewy were on MTV with a funky hit single that I was informed was a Stevie Wonder cover, but I wasn’t really familiar with his ’70s stuff. Maybe it’s bias, but I find Wonder’s original plods, and agree that the cover’s better. I also liked the follow-up single, “Knock Me Down,” as well as the Pretty Woman soundtrack cut, “Show Me Your Soul,” which I owned instead of Mother’s Milk. Then of course they exploded after Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and were one of my favorite bands at the time. In the years since though, I’m mostly over it.

    I didn’t realize that I’d never heard Sting’s “I Hung My Head.” Wow, you weren’t kidding. Johnny Cash’s version rightly and totally erases the original as an artistic concern. I’m more defensive of NIN’s “Hurt,” since it was one of my anthems of the time, but I like both. I’m also partial to his “Rusty Cage,” but that one is more contentious. I think I was introduced to NIN’s “Get Down, Make Love” in the Napster/Limewire years. I probably like it better than Queen’s, but I don’t especially like either, and Reznor’s done better homages. I still consider myself a big NIN fan, having seen them live a time or two, and making it as far as 2013’s Hesitation Marks. I’m pretty out of it on modern releases, so I was more or less unaware of Bad Witch’s release, and have heard nothing off it. To my knowledge, their last great album was 2005’s underrated With Teeth.

    “Landslide” was one of the many curious omissions from 1988’s Fleetwood Mac Greatest Hits, and the 1970s were still a huge blind spot for me in 1994. The Smashing Pumpkins must have been especially big in Houston, or I just had enhanced exposure from the short-lived alternative station The Rocket, but multiple songs off Pisces Iscariot got heavy play here. “Frail and Bedazzled” and “Whir” were in heavier rotation, but “Landslide” was definitely in the mix. Again acknowledging some bias, but I find the Stevie Nicks one a bit too gauzy for my taste. The country twang of the (Dixie) Chicks is a better fit, but steer clear of the Pro FX vomit of a music video. Still, the sparse, intimate, and melancholic Billy Corgan pass simply laps the rest. It most gets to the heart of the song. I still think “Never Let Me Down Again” is my favorite Pumpkins
    cover, partly because Mr. Fixit has associated it with me for a quarter century, and it’s off my favorite covers album, For the Masses.

    I prefer Tori Amos’ “A Case of You.” I think Pet Shop Boys’ take on “Always on My Mind” also rates mentioning. I stan The Sundays. I’ve never liked “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”, but sampling Bettye LaVette after your recommendation, she comes closest to putting it over. Not wild for Concrete Blonde’s “Everybody Knows”, not helped by Pump Up the Volume being a formative feature that introduced me to Leonard Cohen and one of my favorite songs at the top of the damned show. I can’t name a Cowboy Junkies song that isn’t their cover of “Sweet Jane”, so yeah, it’s the best.

  5. First of all, anyone listening to this is probably thinking up their own lists of covers – there are so many to choose from! – and I myself have been daydreaming about putting out a Siskoid Edition on this topic as an unofficial Part 3.

    RunDMC was definitely a game changer back in 1987. Walk This Way was a gateway to mainstreaming rap and hip-hop, even as Guns & Roses was bringing back hard rock with a vengeance. We quickly left the synths behind after those groups hit top 40 radio.

    I was quite stoked when Tom gave us some Great Big Sea. Whenever I listen to Americans talk about music, it makes me realize how ghettoized music is. It SEEMS like English speakers should have very similar experiences when it comes to mainstream music, but we just don’t. Canada is a special case where American, British and Canadian music are all playing contiguously on the radio or MuchMusic (or MusiquePlus, for us Frenchies, so please add French-Canadian, French, Belgian, North African, etc. music to this mix), so that it can be surprising to hear such and such a band from your youth was actually Canadian, or as you get more savvy about what comes from where, that Americans haven’t heard of ubiquitous Canadian acts (or else only vaguely). Tom name-dropped The Tragically Hip, and I don’t think there’s a bigger rock act on the Canadian scene in the last 30 years. Blank stares from the Americans in the room. (Conversely, we got a lot less of the R&B stuff here – I was always mystified at Grammy selections back in the day.)

    It’s gonna be a lot of fun when we do Ryan Discovers Canadian Music, feat. Siskoid and DJ Nath.


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