Top 5 ‘Country Roads’ Covers
5 Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. So I’m watching this first YouTube clip of Me First and The Gimme Gimmes and I have to say I am shocked. Standing on stage are around four-five dudes, all dressed in country garb, button down shirts, big ol’ belt bucks, stonewashed jeans, boots and cowboy hats. They are talking to the crowd when one guy says something about a “flaming John Denver” and they start into this punk-rock cover tribute of West Virginia’s most famous song. And it’s, well, strange. Granted, the lead singer sounds about as talented as our editor Justin McIntosh taking the mic and the music seems even too rushed for punk rock, but the crowd ate it up. Hell, if I was there I’d probably eat it up too even though I’m not originally from there.
4 Oliva Newton-John. Ethereal and really really out there, Olivia Newton-John unleashes her innocently soft vocals on John Denver’s classic in the yesteryear of 1972. Accompanied by a choir for the chorus, you got to respect/eerily fear those 1970s close ups that jump onto screen after a really freaky fade out. On what looks like the bastard child set of Soul Train and what happens when “The Price is Right” opens its door to a “brand new car,” the stage area is soft lit to match Newton-John’s vocals almost perfectly. She always was a charmer and she doesn’t take a lot of liberties with this cover. She lets the song speak for itself and exits just as quietly.
3 Toots & the Maytals. Coming in a strong second in the soul category, Toots & the Maytals is kinda awesome with both its presentation and delivery. Complete with some great reggae chorusing by the entire band on stage, T&TM is able to transform West Virginia into West Jamaica and make it their own. Changing some of the landmarks and river names, the song is essentially the same in nature and probably a lot cooler as a result. The lead singer’s voice is strong and a tad off beat in order to stand out from his choral counterparts,. If you get a chance to see a video of them perform it live, you’re in for a treat as most of the musicians will go into short quick bursts of solo godliness, reggae style.
2 Ray Charles. Who else would you rather see cover any song other than the eternal Ray Charles? In the “Ray Charles Sings for America” album that came out in 2002, the king of keys slaps out Denver’s iconic ballad with such painstaking blues and soul that you want to believe so bad that Ray Charles is actually from the Mountain State. Alas, Wikipedia says he’s from Albany, Ga. I think I may just conveniently forget that fact if that’s all right with you and proclaim Ray Charles as an honorary citizen of the state of West Virginia. So, by the powers vested in me as the Graffiti Staff Writer, I hereby make Ray Charles Robinson officially a native of the great state of West Virginia.
1 Doug E. Fresh. That’s right, DOUG E. FRESH. I said it. Doug E. Fresh recorded the current theme for the NBA basketball team the New York Knicks. With lyrical changes to accommodate the team and New York, “Take Me Home” is played during home games and during warm-ups for the team. I would offer Mr. Fresh citizenship of West Virginia like I offered Ray, but he was born in Barbados and the international law there is tricky to say the least. “The Human Beatbox” will just have to settle with claiming the No. 1 spot on our Top 5 (a quite prestigious award I might add).
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