The Serpico Mixes: The Covers Disc Vol 4

In a joint collaboration with my weekday roommate and Bronx ally Skip Serpico, I’ll be discussing a mix CD a week. He makes them, I listen to them and provide my in the moment commentary. You, hopefully, read said commentary and maybe open up your musical horizons. You can come here every week for the Serpico Mixes. And you should also visit Skip’s site, Fission Spaghetti, for his musings on food and Saturday Night Live (and more!)

Cover albums are like money in the bank, you see. Thus, green. Trust me, this kills here in the States.

Cover albums are like money in the bank, you see. Thus, green. Trust me, this kills here in the States.

Mix #40

Theme: Covers Vol. 4

But always judge a cover by it's...ok, I should've thought this one out a bit more. (photo from

But always judge a cover by it's...ok, I should've thought this one out a bit more. (photo from

Somebody to Love by Jim Carrey- I actually quite like CABLE GUY, the movie this is pulled from. It’s a bruise black comedy directed by Ben Stiller that is much better than its box office and initial reception would lead you to believe.

This cover is not very good on its own, but in the context of the film (and as reminder of it here), I quite like it. Except the ending. I don’t think that ending was in the film. It is a little too silly.

(Sidenote: Remember when Carrey was going to rule the world? I’m kind of sad that didn’t work out.)

King (Queen) of Pain by Alanis Morissette- I unapologetically love this version of the Police classic and have for some time.


Anyway, it is actually a rather restrained effort on Morissette’s part which is interesting because I imagine there must have been considerable temptation for her (or any artist with a big voice, for that matter) to just tear into the thing as it is a song that can lend itself to shouting to the rafters. As I write that, I realize I’d also like to hear that version of the song.

Bad Reputation by Death Cab for Cutie- This is a song that I’ve always had a soft spot for. I don’t own an album with it on it, nor a mix. I can’t remember a single instance of listening to it. And yet, I know most, if not all, of the lyrics.

This would seem to be a pretty good fit for Death Cab with its natural angsty vibe. Oddly though, he doesn’t seem to really connect with the material. It’s a decent cover on a purely musical level, but Gibbard never engages the material with as much emotional resonance as I would like.

Valerie by Mark Ronson- I…I don’t like it. I’m sorry. I…just don’t.

Limit to Your Love by James Blake- I appreciate the minimalist approach here but between lack of familiarity with the song and the male vocals not doing much that I found interesting, I had a hard time staying with this one. It gets repetitive pretty quickly too and at over four and a half minutes, that is bad news.

Baker Street by Foo Fighters- If you can’t be bothered to project, why should I bother to listen? Still that guitar solo is nice isn’t it?

It’s the Same Old Song by Iron & Wine- The technique here is a nice way to start a song or as an intermission in an already song but for the whole thing? Definitely prefer the original. No competition. Iron & Wine can do much better than this.

I Put A Spell on You by She & Him- I appreciate the choice here more than I like it. I do respect Deschanel going for it and doing something very different. I’d definitely recommend giving it a listen on that basis alone. With, I must say, the caveat that you might also not fall in love with it despite the unique approach.

Hold Me by Haim- Not my usual speed, I suppose, but this one connects for me. Poppy with a bit of a dance feel, it comes in like a ray of sunshine.

Those Were the Days by Sammy Davis Jr.- This sounds like Billy Crystal in his Sammy Davis Jr. persona  (as opposed to, you know, the real Davis) singing the theme to All in the Family over a disco beat. Wretched.

Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood by Santa Esmeralda- I can’t say I dislike this, per se. The Spanish meets the theme to Destiny music is certainly a bold choice. Nothing I’d ever choose for myself. Nothing I’ll ever listen to again (unless it is via watch KILL BILL). That said, there’s something about it that makes me smile.

You Know That I’m No Good by Wanda Jackson- I’m starting to feel morose. I am a big fan of covers, but…this is another no go for me. Music is mildly interesting, vocals do nothing for me.

Hit ‘Em Up Style by Carolina Chocolate Drops- Ok, this helps. Liberal applications of fiddle and a lyricist who commits to the song in a way that is either wholly authentic or gloriously deadpan and either way, bravo.

No Cars Go by Final Fantasy- Sounds like it is recorded in a classroom with the instruments next to the mic and the singer at the other end of the room. Still musically, I quite enjoyed it.

Enjoy the Silence by Nada Surf- I like this version musically but Caws is in such a hurry to finish the song his lyrics end up pretty monochromatic. There’s no nuisance or emotion here. There is no, if you’ll figure the pun, trace of enjoyment.

Calling You by Jeff Buckley- Vast. Endless. I may still be listening to it.

One on One by The Bird & The Bee- I’m in a roller rink. I’m skating with a girl who's smile is sweet behind her braces. I want to say something sweet AND charming and make her swoon but instead I just smile and blush.

That’s what this song feels like.

I Can’t Make You Love Me by George Michael- Huh…how did I end up on this easy listening station. Maybe my grandmother was in my car? Where’s the Michael of “Faith,” “Father Figure,” “Freedom 90” and other songs that began with “F” presumably? Because this is not that guy.