Speaking of Neil, I hope everyone caught Sid and Susie (Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs) on The Tonight Show this week. They did a cover of Neil's "Cinnamon Girl" off their new record, which I blogged about last week. Hoffs looks about like she did 20 years ago, but she's getting that aggressively taut and ropy look that thin women sometimes do as they age. Sweet is rather more endomorphic than I can remember seeing him before, and his scruff is gray now, but honestly, he looked and sounded fine to me. Well, no, he looked pissed off or uncomfortable or something, but as a performance, it was good.
I do confess to a bit of prejudice about cover songs generally, and that's a certain impatience with covers that don't "do" anything to the original. Just covering a great song isn't really enough, in my opinion: I need to see an interpretation, a reconsideration of the song. It's one of my biggest issues with Sweet: he's never met a cover he didn't like (the running joke around Liberal Mountain is that you're not legally allowed to make a tribute disc without including Matthew Sweet--snarky, but not wholly unfair) and his default position is a pretty straightforward recreation of the tone and feel of the original (witness for example, his version of "Karen" on Shoe Fetish--terrifyingly faithful to the original).
In that sense, his partnership with Hoffs is excellent, since she's responsible for one of my favorite reinterpretation covers of all time: The Bangles' take on Simon & Garfunkel's "Hazy Shade of Winter." (Other faves include The Lemonheads' "Mrs. Robinson," and Sonic Youth's "Superstar.") Of the four songs I've heard off Under the Covers Vol 1 so far, most are more faithful than interpretive, alas.
What are your favorite cover tunes? Is it because it's a great song, or because you like the covering or original artist?