What makes a good cover song? Jeff Tweedy of Wilco and poet/music critic Hanif Abdurraqib discuss.

I love discovering new bands and hearing new music. But over the past year, I've found myself listening to a lot of cover songs—mostly multi-artist compilations full of cover songs that all share a certain theme, like the Adam Schlesinger tribute or the Save Stereogum Fundraiser of songs from the '00s. On the bleakest days, I find a bittersweet hope by listening to covers of Frightened Rabbit or Warren Zevon songs. Hell, I just released my own album of Irish folk cover songs, which is already doing better than the album of original music I put out with my rock band six months ago.

This wasn't a conscious effort. But it probably helped to bring some comfort into my life during an otherwise tumultuous year. There's something nice about hearing a song you already know, performed in a fresh new way, like you're hearing it for the first time again.

This is common place in jazz, of course, where "standards" are just part of the scene. But cover songs occupy a different place in the realm of pop and rock music.

And that's the topic of this fascinating episode of the music culture and storytelling podcast Object of Sound. Host Hanif Abdurraqib speaks with Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy about the art of a good cover song—what makes one stand out more than another, and what it's like to discover something new in your own music by hearing someone sing your song.

2020 was arguably the year of the cover song. Listening to a familiar song spun a new way can be grounding or groundbreaking. We talk to the often covered and prolific performer of covers, Jeff Tweedy, about what goes into a great cover, and what it's like to hear his own songs re-translated by other musicians. For the playlist of cover songs curated for this episode visit http://bit.ly/oos-covers

(They also discuss Tweedy's new book, How To Write One Song, but the cover song stuff is the main focus, and way more interesting.)

What are your some of your favorite cover songs that really explode and re-explore the original? Share in the comments, and maybe we can make our own BoingBoing playlist. Who knows what kind of new stuff you might discover.

What Makes a Great Cover Song (feat. Wilco's Jeff Tweedy) [Object Of Sound]

Image: Tristan Loper / Flickr (CC-BY-SA 2.0)