[Cover Me]: Modest Mouse and Dave Alvin

Modest Mouse – ‘That’ll Be The Day’ (Originally by Buddy Holly)

I was browsing through HMV yesterday when I came across a recent release of Buddy Holly covers. It seems like a worthwhile endeavour since Buddy is a much forgotten pop genius these days, but unfortunately for the most part the album is more miss rather than hit (such as the lacklustre rendition of my fave Buddy song ‘Everyday’ from Fiona Apple and Jon Brion). However, there are a few shining renditions from the likes of Lou Reed, She & Him and Patti Smith. Modest Mouse’s inventive cover of Buddy’s rolling ‘That’ll Be The Day’ belongs to this latter category. Ever the oddballs of indie rock, Isaac Brock and Co.’s  idiosyncratic approach turns this Chuck Berryesque number into a hushed lullaby that seems more like an incredulous drunk singing to himself than Buddy’s cheeky teasing.

Dave Alvin – ‘Ol ’55’ (Originally by Tom Waits)

Track one, side one of Tom Waits’ debut album ‘Closing Time’. A hell of a song that immediately tipped you off that Waits was going to be a legendary songwriter. This cover from fellow Californian minstrel Dave Alvin also comes from a tribute album: ‘Step Right Up: The Songs of Tom Waits’. Whereas Waits’ original was a strictly solo affair, accompanied only by a ramshackle piano and his own overdubbed vocals, Alvin’s version still keeps things simple but tastefully augments the choruses with slide guitar, accordion and mandolin. Where Waits’ sunrise in the song  is the sunrise of the skulking suburbs, Alvin’s sunrise is that of the wide open Mojave desert with all the colours stretching far across the landscape. Find it on Spotify here.


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