Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sweeping The Nation Covermount 12A: Heroes And Villains

When we did songs about or named after other musicians as a Covermount last year, it was only ever going to scratch the surface of the tribute genre of songwriting. Musicians have always wanted to pass on their idolatory, make sure someone's name is mud, comment on events or just use a celebrated identity for sport. Like this...

Heroes And Villains


The Modern Lovers - Pablo Picasso
The first Modern Lovers album was recorded in 1972 but not released until 1976, by which time producer and pianist John Cale had recorded it for his own solo album. That's hardly fair.
From The Modern Lovers

The Adverts - Gary Gilmore's Eyes
Gilmore was found guilty of murdering a gas station employee and motel manager in Utah in 1976, who gained notoreity by insisting his firing squad death sentence be fulfilled against the wishes of Utah authorities and by requesting his eyes be given for transplant purposes. TV Smith wondered what might happen if the recipient found out.
From Crossing The Red Sea With The Adverts

Half Man Half Biscuit - Fuckin' 'Ell It's Fred Titmus
You have to, really, don't you?
From Back In The DHSS

Boney M - Rasputin
You don't have to, really, but screw you, it's our Covermount. Who is that narrator in the bridge?
From The Collection

Le Tigre - What's Yr Take On Cassavetes?
John Cassavetes was an auteur pioneer of American independent film who has also influenced songs by Fugazi and the Hold Steady. Kathleen Hanna and co don't give his legacy a lot of room for manoevure here.
From Le Tigre

Sleater-Kinney - I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone
Just across the Riot Grrrl divide (and yes, we know Sleater-Kinney really postdate that whole thing, but the ideas are there), this album was Carrie Brownstein's coming-out party of sorts, not least in her ambiguous call to be celebrated.
From Call The Doctor

Super Furry Animals - Hermann Loves Pauline
Hermann Einstein and Pauline Koch, to be precise, parents of Albert Einstein, whose development Gruff considers before veering off into Marie Curie and late night garage culture (who'd know a celebrated weedhead would be aware of that?)
From Radiator

Franz Ferdinand - All For You, Sophia
Here's where that reading in art school dorm pays off - Sophia was the name of Archduke Franz Ferdinand's wife (and daughter, actually). Indeed this Take Me Out B-side is a proper retelling of his murder - Gavrilo Princip was one of seven men from the Black Hand Gang sent to assassinate Ferdinand.

The Clash - The Right Profile
Montgomery Clift was a intense, sensitive kind of actor who was a Oscar-nominated Hollywood star until a car crash in 1956 left him with spinal damage and facial damage. As his health and looks deteriorated Clift became addicted to drink and painkillers and died of a heart attack aged 44. REM's Monty Got A Raw Deal? That's about him too.
From London Calling

Scritti Politti - Jacques Derrida
Living in a cramped Camden squat in the late 70s Green Gartside and fellow critical theory-loving commune dwellers read theory voraciously, and it was those addled idealistics that fed into 1982's melodic soul experiments that brought them closer to the New Pop mainstream.
From Songs To Remember

Modest Mouse - Bukowski
Big old lit-touchstone for any self respecting US indie rocker in the Isaac Brock mould, Charles.
From Good News For People Who Love Bad News

Billy Bragg & Wilco - Ingrid Bergman
Woody Guthrie's 1950 love song to the celebrated Swedish actress resurrected for the covers project...
From Mermaid Avenue Vol.1

David Bowie - Andy Warhol
Bowie was an early Velvets champion and is reputed to have played this to Warhol when he visited Bowie's studio, to a less than positive reaction. Not that we'd expect anything more, obviously. Also on the same album is Song for Bob Dylan, and the subject didn't like that either. John Frusciante claims the intro to Under The Bridge is inspired by this song.
From Hunky Dory

The Go-Betweens - Lee Remick
Hefner also had a song called Lee Remick, but it wasn't about the late actress. "She was in The Omen with Gregory Peck/She got killed, what the heck".
From The Lost Album 1978-1979

10,000 Maniacs - Hey Jack Kerouac
cf Bukowski.
From Campfire Songs

Lloyd Cole And The Commotions - Sean Penn Blues
Cole wasn't averse to the odd cultural reference - Norman Mailer, Grace Kelly, Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Raymond Carver - but being sympathetic to the then much mocked Penn was a new dimension.
From Mainstream

Manic Street Preachers - Let Robeson Sing
It's not as if MSP have few options in this regard, but there's something oddly touching about their tribute to actor/singer/civil rights champion Paul Robeson, not to mention it being one of their few late period highlights.
From Know Your Enemy

Sufjan Stevens - John Wayne Gacy, Jr
Serial killer number two: Gacy, the "Killer Clown", was executed in 1994 for the rape and murder of 33 boys and young men between 1972 and his arrest in 1978, having been sentenced to 21 consecutive life sentences and 12 death sentences. Sufjan thinks they might be alike somehow. Gulp.
From Illinoise

Okkervil River - John Allyn Smith Sails
Confessional poet John Berryman has suddenly became an indie rock cause celebre over the last couple of years. The Hold Steady's Stuck Between Stations is about him, and Nick Cave (We Call Upon The Author) and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (Mama, Won't You Keep Them Castles In The Air And Burning) both lyrically namecheck him and his style. Best of all, though, is Will Sheff's retelling of his 1972 suicide by bridge jumping which lurches - naturally, Sheff says - into the traditional song best known as Sloop John B. An unfollowable finish to any compilation...
From The Stage Names

The Fatima Mansions - Blues For Ceausescu
...were it not due to this. There's not a lot of direct political comment here, largely because we might want to do a current affairs leaning Covermount one day, but Cath Carroll's molten precision targeted anger at... what? Royalty, Britain, the nature of dictatorship? Anyway, it was a Song To Learn And Sing and actually is unfollowable by anything.
From Viva Dead Ponies

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fatima Mansions :)! Cath Carroll !!!!

Matt

Simon said...

Yes. The period in the band's history when Cathal Coughlan let Miaow stage a hostile takeover is largely glossed over in those huge indie encyclopedias.

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