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Published on October 12th, 2018 | by Alan Cross

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The Ongoing History of New Music, episode 830: 9 great alt-rock cover songs

There’s something fun and satisfying about learning to play one of your favourite songs for yourself: learning the lyrics, figuring out the chords, and deconstructing all the constituent parts.

Then you get deeper, leading to an appreciation of how everything fits together, the artistic decisions made by the songwriter, what kind of musical skill is required, the sort of production that was employed and so on. By the time you’ve got the sound down, you’ve learned a whole lot of other things, leading to your improvement as a musician.

Now let’s look at things from another direction. If a song can be interpreted multiple times by many different people coming at it from different genres and it still sounds good, then you’re dealing with a truly great song.

And consider this: the best compositions not only sound great when played by a full band but also sound fantastic by one person around a campfire.

Finally, there’s the fan aspect. People love to hear familiar songs done in different ways by different artists. Sometimes the cover might even be better than the original–or, at the very least, reveals the song to be something more in the hands of someone else.

This program assembles nine cover songs. What makes them (and the original) so great? And what’s the backstory for each of them? Let’s find out.

Bad Wolves, Zomine (Cranberries cover)

Eddie Vedder, Hard Sun (Indio)

Marilyn Manson, Tainted Love (Soft Cell, Gloria Jones)

Gary Jules, Mad World (Tears for Fears)

Flaming Lips and Stardeath & White Dwarves, Borderline (Madonna)

Cake, I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor)

Weezer, Africa (Toto)

White Stripes, Jolene (Dolly Parton)

Johnny Cash, Hurt (Nine Inch Nails)

Eric Wilhite has created this playlist for us.

Don’t forget that you can get the podcast version of this podcast through iTunes or wherever you get your on-demand audio.

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.

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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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3 Responses to The Ongoing History of New Music, episode 830: 9 great alt-rock cover songs

  1. fred says:

    Disturbed did a cover of Sound of Silence. It is awesome!

  2. Call Me Snake says:

    Chris Cornell- One with U2 and Metallica lyrics

  3. Frank Slemc says:

    Nine Inch Nails – Physical is the the most improved from the original song.
    What Adam Ant did with it was pathetic until Trent got ahold of it!

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