Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Five Favorites: Love Song Covers

Linking up with Hallie!

The little girl I nanny for has a love for me after about 5 months together, I think, but understandably, she straight up bellows when I show up each morning because she knows it means her mama's about to disappear.  We recently attempted a new maneuver that I'm calling in my head Dance Off Hand Off (alternate name suggestions welcome), where her mom puts on music and holds her while we all dance around the kitchen, and as we get down she passes her to me and sneaks away as I ever so subtly spin the babe in the opposite direction.  So far so peaceful.

The tune by which the magic happens has been a reggae cover of the song "I Say a Little Prayer For You" from the soundtrack to My Best Friend's Wedding, which, I swear, has like four versions of that song on it.  I know sometimes only the orig will do, but I really like covers.  Something about hearing a fresh, lesser-known take on an old, well-known song is so intriguing to me.  And as far as wedding songs go, first dances especially, I think going with a cover can be an inspired choice.

I love me some Boyce Avenue as much as the next girl, but here, for your consideration, five other love song covers.

1. In Your Eyes: No contest, you guys.  This is my favorite song, hands down.  The vulnerability ("Love, I get so lost sometimes"), the self-gift ("I reach out from the inside"), the fulfillment of a soul's longing (the whole dang chorus)…it stirs me so good.  Andrew thinks the original Peter Gabriel version sounds like The Lion King, and maybe he has a point (one I don't see a problem with!).  He approves of this understated acoustic version by Matt Ketteman and Cameron Mizell.  Listen to it on Spotify here.

2. Let's Stay Together: I first encountered Obidiah Parker by his mellow redo of "Hey Ya."  Inspired, my friend played it on guitar during dinner with my roommate and I, and it somehow resulted in us dancing around the apartment so enthusiastically, I guess, that the downstairs neighbor banged on the ceiling.  Maybe it wasn't such a mellow cover after all.  Anyway, he also has his own rendition of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together."  At the risk of disrespecting a classic, I think I like this one more, if only because the words sound a little clearer (Al Green: marblemouth?) and because the melody just sounds so great.  Have a listen:

3. Crazy In Love: Classic (sidenote: I'm illiterate…is Bey pronounced "Bee?"  Sorry, Beyonce).  This vintage take by Emeli Sande from The Great Gatsby soundtrack would fit in perfectly for your reception cocktail hour, in my opinion.  Yes?

4. Dance Me to the End of Love: I heard this song for the first time back in high school, thanks to a friend who introduced me to Leonard Cohen, the musician who also wrote "Hallelujah."  "Dance Me to the End of Love" was gorgeously haunting and poetic and sexy, but despite the beautiful lyrics I thought Leonard sounded a little, um, creepy.  I love the whispered harmonies in this version by the Civil Wars so much.

5. Is This Love: One time in the car, my chastity speaking partner and I were talking about our parents' wedding songs.  After I serenaded him with my most expressive attempt at my mom and dad's ultracheesy 80s power ballad, "Just You and I," he played me Bob Marley's "Is This Love," which his parents danced to.  So much cooler (sorry, parents, if you're reading this), and it was that song that took me from a casual to more-widely-listened Marley fan.  Corinne Bailey Rae takes the reggae jam and turns it into a classy, soulful affair.  Beauty.

Your turn!  Any other romantic covers I should know about?  Share 'em in the comments, and tell me your favorite love song!

P.S.  5 1/2: I wrote about Adele's incredible cover of Bob Dylan's "To Make You Feel My Love" here!

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  1. We chose Peter Gabriel's cover of "The Book of Love" for our first dance. It took us a long time to decide, even though I had several ideas none seemed right. The Book of Love is the perfect balance of profound, sweet and absurd, at least for us :)

    1. Aw, my first dance with my husband was to the Magnetic Fields' (theirs was the original, right?) :) It's such a simple, beautiful song!

    2. Ohhh I love that one, both versions! Poetry!



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