Six rules to create the perfect cover by Rosanne Cash & Mike Doughty

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From Q Magazine:

Having recorded a version of John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads together, Mike Doughty and Rosanne Cash know a thing or two about covers. In fact the song features on the Soul Coughing man’s latest album The Flip Is Another Honey (out now) which sees him tackling tunes from the likes of The Stone Roses, Low, Cheap Trick and more. Based on their experiences, the pair have drawn-up “six proposed rules” for creating the perfect cover.

Rule 1: Choose songs that sound beautiful in your particular voice, not just songs you love
Mike Doughty: “Just because a song is amazing doesn’t mean it sounds good when you sing it – choose a song you can really inhabit wonderfully.”
Rosanne Cash: “What you said! That’s the first rule of covers: choosing something you can inhabit. That doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t songs outside your known gestalt, that seem confusing emotionally or technically at first, that you can’t end up inhabiting– and what a thrill it is when that happens. I’ve covered songs by everyone from Green Day to the Carter Family and was able to find a bit of myself in all of them.”

Rule 2: If you think of a song ironically, don’t cover it
RC: “Have respect for the song and the songwriter.”
MD: “I find that when I pick something unusual, reviewers will be, like, His ironic cover of Mary J Blige, or His ironic cover of John Denver. No way! It’s because the song is beautiful. It may be improbable, but never ironic. Irony, I think, is often a modern vehicle to rediscover something beautiful. It’s more difficult to say, I think Henry Mancini is amazing, motherfuckers, than to pretend it’s all ha-ha-ha. All those kids in Williamsburg, with the elaborately-waxed Edwardian mustaches, are constantly defamed for wearing ironic facial hair. But they’re getting laid. Nobody gets laid ironically.”

Continue reading the rest of the story on Q Magazine