Bob Has All The Fun

If all goes according to plan this afternoon, All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen will be hanging out with Radiohead and attending the last performance of the band's U.S. tour in Santa Barbara, Calif., while I sit in the D.C. office and stare out the window at the falling rain. (Cue strings.)

I tried catching Radiohead at a show earlier this year in Virginia, but was foiled by a torrential downpour and an impossible traffic jam to get into the venue.

If Radiohead's Aug. 25 performance at the Hollywood Bowl is any indication, Bob's in for a perfect storm of musical rapture. At that show, the band covered what I know to be one of Bob's favorite songs by one of his all-time favorite artists, Neil Young. The song: "Tell Me Why" from After the Gold Rush.

Thom Yorke may be doing his best to channel Young, but I'd never noticed how similar their voices are. It's really spot-on. Radiohead doesn't need to do more than it already has to win my respect and admiration, but there's always something comforting about newer bands paying respect to the past like this. It's also a sort of validation, not to mention a nice surprise gift to fans of both artists.

Some of my favorite cover moments include Arcade Fire doing Bruce Springsteen's "State Trooper" with Springsteen, The Shins covering Pink Floyd's "Breathe," and Ryan Adams covering The Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar" with Beth Orton. I saw him do it at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., once. It was so unexpected and haunting.

So, Bob, I hope your night is full of surprises like this. In the meantime, I'll be back here asking readers, "What are some of your favorite cover moments?"



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I'm a big fan of bands pulling out a cover song during their live show and wish more bands would do so when their setlist is looking a bit sparse (especially with bands who only have one album to their name).

I think it adds a special treat for the audience and often is a nice night cap to a great show when used during the encore.

A few of my more memorable favorites that I've seen:

Radiohead playing "After the Goldrush" by Neil Young right before segueing into "Everything In Its Right Place"
My Morning Jacket doing "Northern Sky" by Nick Drake
Andrew Bird covering "Oh Sister" by Bob Dylan

Sent by Mike Katzif, NPR | 4:26 PM | 8-28-2008

Couldn't agree more about the closing cover. A few greats I've seen to end the evening:

-The White Stripes closing the show with an up-to-11 take on Leadbelly's "Boll Weevil"

-The Flaming Lips doing Black Sabbath's "War Pigs/Luke's Wall"

-Elvis Costello and Emmylou Harris doing Bob Dylan's "When I Paint My Masterpiece"

-Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings ripping up James Brown's "It's a Man's Man's Man's World"

-Brad Paisley showing his rock 'n roll roots doing Dire Straits' "Walk of Life"

-Mates of State's loving rendition of Jackson Browne's "These Days"

Sent by Lindsay Barnes | 4:55 PM | 8-28-2008

Back in high school, I saw Dave Matthews Band cover All Along the Watchtower. Although I'm not into DMB anymore, and kind of wince that I'm publicly mentioning that I ever was, at that moment and at that place it was the best thing I'd ever heard in my entire life. The already pumped crowed absolutely freaked when the band came back out of the shadows to cover that song during their encore. There's something about a cover at a live show that can really energize a crowd. One of my better concert memories...

Sent by Greg Johnson | 5:32 PM | 8-28-2008

Built to Spill used to dust off "Freebird" at the end of a set, as well as "Cortez the Killer." I don't think they ever really knew how to end either of them, but they were always transcendent moments.

Sent by A-Law | 5:43 PM | 8-28-2008

In related news, the concert Bob will be attending is also going to be webcast live.

Sent by ian | 5:49 PM | 8-28-2008

My favorite live cover for the moment is the Futurehead's doing Kate Bush's "Hounds of Love." The cover was on the first album so it wasn't a surprise to hear it live, and I'm also not a big fan of vocal audience participation, but this was pretty great. I saw them at The Paradise in Boston, but this captures the spirit of it pretty well:

and to commiserate, some great covers I've missed:

Elvis Costello with the Brodsky Quartet covering "God Only Knows"

Built to Spill covering "Linus and Lucy"

Polyphonic Spree covering Nirvana's "Lithium":

and Gnarls Barkley's live cover of Radiohead's "Reckoner":

Sent by mac | 6:14 PM | 8-28-2008

I've never been a huge Grateful Dead fan, but I'll never forget going to Red Rocks here in Denver to see Lyle Lovett the night Jerry Garcia died. Before the Large Band started the regular set, Lyle came out with his cellist, he sang the Dead's "Friend of the Devil" followed by his own song "Pontiac." Moving, amazing, special.

Sent by Tom EG | 1:19 AM | 8-29-2008

matt pond pa's cover of neutral milk hotel's "aeroplane over the sea."

Also, George Harrison's Handle me with care, covered by Jenny Lewis.

Sent by Holli Hale | 2:55 AM | 8-29-2008

oooh. Ryan Adam's also does a really great cover of "wonderwall" by Oasis.

Sent by Holli Hale | 2:56 AM | 8-29-2008

a superb rendition of a loved song!

jeff tweedy with daniel johnston's, "true love will find you in the end"

peter, paul and mary with dylan's "blowin' in the wind"

Sent by jehan | 9:15 AM | 8-29-2008

What's this? Two acoustic players and not drums, base, and electric guitars? And one's singing a song they didn't write but a professional good composer wrote?
Magically it is soulful, not cluttered and over produced, and every ounce of it is part of the back-to-basics Post-bands new music way (that you can't talk about). Now if they can only add other art forms too, they are card carrying members of the art rev.
New century, new everything in spite of what the media won't say.

Sent by Tom Hendricks | 1:24 PM | 8-29-2008

ben gibbard on neil young's, "harvest moon"

Sent by jehan | 1:33 PM | 8-29-2008

Fabulous! I love the one on youtube of Gillian Welch performing Black Star at Bonnaroo.

Sent by Mary | 12:41 PM | 8-31-2008

Polyphonic Spree's cover of "Lithium," from your webcast of their show. I was listening to the podcast at work, and I started laughing out loud when I realized what it was, but I got goosebumps at the same time.

Sent by Nick | 12:35 PM | 9-2-2008

M. Ward covering Daniel Johnston's "Story of an Artist"
My Morning Jacket covering The Velvet Underground's "Oh! Sweet Nuthin" at Bonnaroo.
Bliss. Pure bliss.

Sent by Claire | 4:05 PM | 9-2-2008

suede covering blondie's union city man

Sent by Zvi | 10:30 AM | 9-5-2008

i would have to say travis covering "hit me baby one more time" by britney spears. they managed to take a shitty song and make it sound like a good one.

and i'm a sucker for sixpence none the richer's cover of "there she goes" by the la's

Sent by zach | 10:01 PM | 9-5-2008

I had a similar reaction to the similarities between Yorke and Young's voices a few years back when I heard a recording of Thom Yorke's solo acoustic show from Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit, in which he played a stellar version of After The Gold Rush (blaming it on the fact that he was playing Young's piano).

A quick youtube search turned it up:

Fantastic stuff.

Sent by Steve | 11:10 PM | 9-7-2008

My Morning Jacket's cover of "It Makes No Difference" by the Band is one of the most brilliant covers I have ever heard. It can be found on a Band tribute album from a few years back.

Sent by Andy | 2:29 PM | 9-15-2008

The Built to Spill cover of Cortez the Killer is great. I saw them do it live and it's on their live CD. I also agree with the earlier comments about the closing cover. My all-time favorite, and one of my top 5 concert moments, was when I finally saw the Beat Farmers after loving them for years, and they closed with a cover of "God Save the Queen." Country Dick Montana channeling Johnny Rotten -- it doesn't get any better than that.

On CD, Johnny Ramone's cover of What a Wonderful World makes me happy every time I hear it.

Sent by Gary | 5:05 PM | 9-16-2008

i've heard Nickel Creek do some excellent cover--Nirvana's "Lithium," Jackson 5's "I Want You Back," the Band's "The Weight," and Beck's "Where It's At"

Sent by Caitlin Sandley | 12:56 AM | 9-17-2008

Oops, I meant Joey Ramone. Yesterday was a long day.

Sent by Gary | 9:31 AM | 9-17-2008

The Chameleons doing "Tomorrow never Knows" by the Beatles

Sent by Den | 9:14 PM | 9-27-2008

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