Lagniappe (la·gniappe) noun \ˈlan-ˌyap,’ – 1. An extra or unexpected gift or benefit. 2. Something given or obtained as a gratuity or bonus.
Welcome to the sixth installment of the Lagniappe Sessions in which we invite some of our favorite artists to cut exclusive covers paying tribute to some of their favorite artists. Two of my own favorite discoveries this year have coincidentally both hailed from the state of Alabama; The Shakes, who I wrote about in July, and Colossal Gospel, a sort of southern gothic folk-fairytale. The band, in their own words, below on covers as disparate and reimaginative as the Blood Brothers to the trad-folk of John Jacob Niles.
Cover songs can sometimes be a double-edged sword. I’ve always enjoyed covers that kinda form their own identity separate from the original. That’s the intention we had going into the following tracks. We tried to make them our own but also show tribute to the original artist.
The Blood Brothers: This was just an attempt to cover something entirely different from what we do. The Blood Brothers is one of the very few bands that outlasted my teenage angst. I still listen to them every once in a while. I really admire the way they created their own mythology with their lyrics.
John Jacob Niles: I’ve always respected the idea of traditional folk tunes. The era of traditional folk was amazing. Musicians back then didn’t always have the luxury of recording. Early folk artists would just learn others’ songs, maybe arranging them differently, and help spread that tune. So the approach for this song was just that. We arranged it a little differently and changed it to a different key. It was nice to pretend like we just came from the foothills of Appalachia, with a hauntingly beautiful song in tow.
Paul Simon: I remember listening to Graceland for the first time and I was just blown away by the lyrics. I couldn’t believe how dark some of the subject matter was. “You Can Call Me Al” is a perfect example of that. The melody itself is uplifting but, again, the lyrics for this song are pretty dark. We wanted to make our cover a little more stripped down to have more emphasis on the lyrics. I just wanted it to sound like some folks playing it on their back porch.