Rootin’ Tootin’: Attack of the Clones
Given the two month stretch which included the release of country album of the year favorites like “Bluebird Days” by Jordan Davis, “One Thing At A Time" by Morgan Wallen, and “Gettin’ Old” by Luke Combs, the natural choice for a music review would be to look at one. That’s what I thought until I heard “Fast Car” on “Gettin’ Old”. Covers have been an integral part of country music for many years, putting the stylistic choices of country music onto rock and pop numbers. Here’s a look at some country covers that are iconic or soon may be.
“Fast Car” - Luke Combs
The newest on the list, originally written and recorded by folk rock artist Tracy Chapman. In “Fast Car,” the narrator speaks to their significant other, speaking of their dreams to break out of the life and circumstances they currently know. When I saw this on “Gettin’ Old” I couldn’t wait to listen to it in album order because of how good a fit it is. A song such as “Fast Car” deserves a little grit to it to match the desires of the narrator and the song had yet to be done by someone with a gravelly voice such as Combs. I sincerely hope this becomes the go-to version and one of the most successful country covers out there.
“Hurt” - Johnny Cash
Despite most of his best work coming before the 1970s, Cash’s most iconic number came in 2002 on the album “American IV: The Man Comes Around”. Cash’s rendition of “Hurt” is bare, vulnerable, and yet at the same time confident and driven. Few performers are capable of creating this atmosphere and that’s why it’s become so commercially successful, featured in productions such as “Colombiana, Smallville”, and the trailer for “Logan”. Surely star power does not carry Cash’s rendition of Nine Inch Nails’ song.
“Life Is A Highway” - Rascal Flatts
“Through all these cities and all these towns, it's in my blood, and it's all around.” Like Johnny Cash, “Life Is A Highway” is a country cover that’s also a band's most popular song. The country rock band covered this song in 2006, featured in “Me And My Gang” and Pixar’s “Cars”. The latter allowed the song to become a mega hit and synonymous with Pixar’s greatest film. There’s not much else that needs to be said about this song, it quite simply slaps. Maybe it’s my age but I can’t help but have a good time with this song and Tom Cochrane’s version just is not the same.
“Ol’ Red” - Blake Shelton, originally by George Jones
“Landslide” - The Chicks, originally by Fleetwood Mac
“Heaven” - Jason Aldean, originally by Bryan Adams
“Strawberry Wine” - Breeland, originally by George Jones
In modern music, most are insistent on recording original work, which feels quite foolish. Music is unique as an art form as it is made to be recreated, edited, and improved. I love few things more than when artists look at other work and come at it with another perspective that unlocks things that we didn’t previously know were missing. Enjoy these unique takes.